"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."


The Sound Of Guns

by  Phyllis Zeck

Union Field Artillery

Union Field Artillery abt 1862. Lib. of Congress. Click to enlarge.

I have been contemplating what a brave man my 2nd great grandfather, Charles (Carl) Frey was. My paternal grandmother was Grace Norder. Grace’s grandfather was Charles Frey. How is it that I never knew Charles’ story? Why didn’t Grandma Grace share the amazing journey of this man with her 8 grandchildren?

Charles was born in Jan of 1842 in Germany and died on 17 May 1901. In 1866 he married Anna Rinehart (born June 1848 in Wisconsin). Their children were: Edward A (1866-1918), Louisa (b 1871) George (born 1872), George (born 1873), Albert (born 1875), Emma (born 1877) Mary Matilda (Tillie) (1880 – 1937), Magdalena (born 1887) and Albert.

In the 1880 census Charles and his family were living “in Village South of R.R.” house number 44, in the county of Green, in the state of Wisconsin. His occupation was a carpenter. Records indicate that the family lived in Monroe Wisconsin which is about 130 miles northwest of Chicago.

Tillie, my great grandmother, married Edward C Norder on 01 Jan1902 and my grandmother Grace was born in 1910.

Charles volunteered for two tours of duty during the Civil War, enlisting with the 2nd Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery. We’ve all read about the brutal conditions our hero ancestors endured during the Civil War. Lack of food, shelter, ammunition and clothing haunted the soldiers. I’m so proud that one of my ancestors survived the trauma of this passionate war. What a fighter he must have been!

I wrote a blog post about the fact that Charles served at the Battle At Deserted House in Suffolk, VA in 1863 which you can read by clicking here. Confederate forces under Brig Gen Roger Pryor crossed the Blackwater River into Virginia on a foraging expedition. Maj Gen John Peck commanded the Union garrison at Suffolk.  Peck organized a force to drive Pryor out of the area and assigned Brig. Gen. Michael Corcoran to its command. Anticipating an attack from the Union garrison, Pryor prepared his forces for battle near Kelly’s Store (AKA Deserted House), located 8 miles west of Suffolk. Corcoran’s cavalry engaged Pryor’s forces nearby. 

Last month Wes posted a comment on my blog post about the battle.  He told me that he is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Suffolk, VA and he was going to visit the area where the Battle At Deserted House was fought in 1863.  You can visit Wes’ Facebook page by typing Mid Atlantic Relic & Coin Hunters where you can see items from past relic hunts. Wes was curious – if he was able to obtain any artillery fire residue from the Union guns would I like to have some?  Would I ever!!  “Just think,” Wes said. “Your ancestor could have been the one that pulled the cord that had some of these case shot in them”.  

Wes sent me the photos above. They are from the 1st phase of the battle (see the map from Baylor University below). Wes explained that the picture looking over the green wheat grass is looking at the confederate lines where their artillery was posted. The other two pictures are where the union guns where placed and the union infantry staged.  The center photo is the middle of the battlefield. In front of the house and across the street is where the Deserted House, AKA Kelly’s Store, stood (which is gone now). Charles’ company saw action on 30 Jan 1863 at Deserted House or Kelly’s Store. 

Deserted House Battle 1863

Courtesy of Baylor University

The map above is reprinted with permission from the War of the Rebellion Atlas digital collection. It was produced by the US Government. You can click on the image to enlarge it.  

This next photo gallery are photos of relics Wes found on the battlefield.  Wes explained that the items are a US collar pin and a piece of the grape shot that didn’t break apart upon explosion.  Usually these pieces break apart into separate lead balls and rain down on the soldiers. 

While Wes shared his photos with me the day after his trip, I was once again at the mercy of the US Postal Service to delivery Wes’ package.  We all know how terrible I am about waiting patiently for mail to arrive. Wes emailed me that it was on it’s way and he said, “I hope your family will be thrilled to have a piece of your ancestors heritage where he fought to preserve his beliefs.”  

Civil War Ammo IMG_1065
The package from Wes arrived yesterday.  Wes enclosed four case shots (which are also called grape shot).  These four pieces were found on the actual battlefield in 1999. They were found on the Confederate side so they were fired by Union guns. The grape shot traveled 50 – 80 yards. He also sent two Civil War .58 caliber minie balls (3 ringers) which traveled a couple hundred yards.  Wes wrote, “I hope you and your family enjoy these artifacts from our nation’s greatest conflict.  I am honored to be sharing these with you.” I am thrilled and very grateful to Wes for his generosity!



Battle at Deserted House in Suffolk VA

by  Phyllis Zeck

I was amazed to discover that my 2nd great grandfather Charles (Carl) Frey III volunteered for the Civil War.  Click here for my blog post.  Carl was my paternal 2nd great grandfather.  Click here Frey Hourglass Chart to see highlighted names of my lineage through my father, Robert Winike. Charles enlisted into Company 2nd Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery. Charles left the service as a Corporal.

I decided to write to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Foundation to see if I could have access to any of his military records.  Laura was very helpful and provided me with information of how to obtain Charles’ Certificate of Service and his Muster & Descriptive Roll. Laura confirmed that Charles (Carl) enlisted on 14 Dec 1861 in Monroe, Wisconsin for a three year term.  Then on 07 Dec 1863 he reenlisted at Fort Monroe in Hampton, VA.  This fort is 30 miles north of Norfolk, VA.  My sister Lori and I vacationed in Norfolk a few years ago.  If I had only started my research earlier we could have visited Fort Monroe!  

Laura explained that enlistment & discharge and mustering in & out are slightly different.  Enlistment means the day the soldier signed up, discharge is the day they were honorable separated from the military.  Mustered in means the date they were assigned a regiment and unit, mustered out means the date they were released from service.  You can read the entries for Charles Descriptive Roll (line 63) by clicking here for page1 Frey Charles and clicking here for page 2 Frey Charles.   

In Laura’s email she told me she was mailing me Charles’ Certificate Of Service. Charles (Carl) Frey You all know by now that when I find out genealogy information is “in the mail” I am terrible at waiting patiently for the envelope to arrive!  Click on the image to the right to enlarge it.  This document states that Charles (Carl) mustered into service on 10 Oct 1861.  They left Wisconsin 21 Jan 1862 proceeding to Washington DC and Fort Monroe in Virginia.  In January 1863 they were moved to Suffolk, Virginia.  The unit was later moved to Williamsburg, VA and in July to Yorktown, VA.  I wish I had know this information when my family visited Williamsburg and Yorktown.  Why does this keep happening to me?!

Charles’ company saw action on 30 Jan 1863 at Deserted House or Kelly’s Store. Neither the Confederate nor the Union soldiers declared victory at this battle.  There were more Union deaths and injuries but the Confederates withdrew from the battlefield.  Deaths totaled 22 Union and 8 Confederate soldiers however Suffolk remained in the Union hands.

Courtesy of Baylor University

Courtesy of Baylor University

This magnificent map is the property of Baylor University. The image is reprinted with permission from the War of the Rebellion Atlas digital collection. It was produced by the US Government.  You can click on the image to enlarge it.



A Civil War Soldier

by  Phyllis Zeck

Robert Thomas Winike

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.  Scan 1

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.

Dad 2 Scan

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

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.