Sunday, November 04, 2007

George and William C. Bodendorfer

George Bodendorfer was born 1826 in Marck Garbach, Bavaria, Germany.

George may have immigrated to the United States as early as 1849, and probably settled in Wisconsin by 1849 when his daughter was born. (His younger brother William reportedly also settled in Wisconsin sometime around 1849.) In 1850 George was working as a farmer and living with his first wife, German-born Barbara (b. 1826) and their daughter Anna (b. 1849) in Theresa, Dodge County, Wisconsin.

In any case, he reportedly married his second (?) wife, Martha Elizabeth Hoffmann or Mohr (b. 1835), on November 4, 1856, in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan; they had at least one child: Emma (1858-1934). (Elizabeth “Hoffman” may have been the sister of Anna Hoffman who would marry George’s younger brother William who also served in the Old Third.)

They were living in Michigan when Emma was born (probably in Muskegon) and by 1860 George was working as a mill hand and Elizabeth was employed as a cook and they were living at Nicholas Kemp’s boarding house in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan (so was George’s younger brother William). Also staying at the same boarding house, and indeed listed as right next to George were the “Bail” brothers, August and Fidele. Fidele too would join the Old Third.

George stood 5’8” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was a 35-year-old blacksmith living in Muskegon, Muskegon County when he enlisted in Company C on May 23, 1861; his brother William would enlist in Company I in 1864. (Curiously, George did not join the “Muskegon Rangers”, which formed in Muskegon in late April of 1861 and which would join the Old Third as Company H. On the other hand, Company C was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles”, a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.)
George was reported as a deserter on July 24, 1861, at Arlington, Virginia, two days following the Union retreat from Bull Run, and returned to the Regiment a week later on July 31, 1861, at Hunter’s Farm, Virginia. (Like many others he had probably become separated from the regiment during the federal withdrawal to Washington.)

According to Sharon Miller, chronicler of Muskegon County civil war veterans, George had consistently failed to provide for his wife and child while in the army and Elizabeth consequently sought County relief assistance in 1862 and again in 1863. They were divorced on December 26, 1864. (Elizabeth or rather Martha apparently remarried one Philip Schnorbach in Muskegon in November of 1865.)

George was discharged for chronic rheumatism on January 10, 1863, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia, and he returned to Muskegon where he reentered the service in Company A, Tenth Michigan cavalry on September 15, 1863, for 3 years, and was mustered on October 2, 1863, probably at Grand Rapids where the regiment was organized between September 18 and November 18, 1863, when it was mustered into service. It left Michigan for Lexington, Kentucky on December 1, 1863, and participated in numerous operations, mostly in Kentucky and Tennessee throughout the winter of 1863-64. Most of its primary area of operations would eventually be in the vicinity of Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. He was serving with the company when he was ruptured when his horse fell on him at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, on December 25, 1863, and was subsequently treated in the regimental hospital. He was on detached service at the dismounted camp, Knoxville, Tennessee, from March through May of 1865, and was mustered out on November 11, 1865, at Memphis, Tennessee.

After the war George returned to Michigan and eventually settled in Vestaburg, Montcalm County, where he worked as a laborer. He was working as a laborer for a lumberman named William Stacy in Pine Township, Montcalm County in 1880, and living in Vestaburg by 1886 when he applied for a pension (no. 532,690, drawing $12.00 per month by 1891). He eventually settled in Grand Rapids, where he was living in 1888 and 1890, and for some years worked as a fireman.

George listed no next of kin when he was admitted as a widower to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home on March 10, 1887 (no. 538). (In fact his daughter Emma and her husband were living in Muskegon.)

George died of uremic fever, bronchitis and general debility at the Home on March 29, 1891, and was buried in the Home cemetery: section 3 row 8 grave no. 3; see photo G-9.

William C. Bodendorfer was born March 14, 1835, in Neustadt, Bavaria, Germany.

William came to the United States in 1849, eventually settling on a farm in Wisconsin, and settled in Muskegon in 1853. (His older brother George and his wife were living in Theresa, Wisconsin in 1850.) By 1860 he was working as a mill hand and fireman in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan, and residing at Nicholas Kemp’s boarding house in Muskegon (as was his older brother George who would also join the Old Third). Also staying at the same boarding house, and indeed listed as right next to George were the “Bail” brothers, August and Fidele. Fidele too would join the Old Third (Curiously in 1860 there was one William Bodendofer, mill hand and fireman living and/or working with a sawyer named McCallum and his family in Muskegon, along with another mill hand, Sam Murray. Sam too would join Company H in 1861.)

William stood 5’6” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 28 years old when he enlisted in Company I on February 19, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Muskegon, and was mustered the same day. (His brother George had enlisted in Company C in 1861.) William joined the Regiment on February 10 at Camp Bullock, Virginia, and was transferred to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He was reported as a Corporal on January 1, 1865, and mustered out of service on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana. (He claimed in later years that he contracted rheumatism on the Ohio River in June of 1865, probably while the regiment was being transferred to Jeffersonville. He further alleged that he was treated for the disease at a hospital near Louisville, Kentucky.)

After the war William returned to Muskegon where he worked for a while as a grocer and as a laborer.

On May 14, 1869, he married Bavarian native Anna Hoffman (1850-1911), and they had at least four children: William Andrew (1870-1940), Frederick Anthony (1872-1940), Anna (1874-1936) and John (1879-1928). (Anna was possibly the sister of George Bodendorfer’s first wife Elizabeth. In any case she reportedly immigrated to the US in 1868.)

By William opened his first saloon business on Western avenue in Muskegon in 1870, and by 1873 William was operating a saloon on the corner of Pine and Center Streets, and in 1874 it was reported that he opened a saloon at 112 Western avenue “next to Blake’s grocery, where he will supply the public with Blatz’s celebrated Milwaukee beer, the use of which has been proven to be an exemption from all the ills that flesh is heir to. For further particulars apply to Bill.”

By 1879 he had moved his business to 47 Western avenue where he included 15 pool tables in his saloon. By 1880 William was working as a grocer and living with his wife and children in Muskegon’s Second Ward. He sold his Western avenue saloon business in the summer of 1883.

He was a member of the local Germania Lodge and Muskegon Lodge, I.O.O.F., and he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association in 1877, and joined the Grand Army of the Republic Kearny Post No. 7 of Muskegon in 1880.

William became chronically ill around 1881, apparently suffering from “rheumatism” of the joints, and and was living in Muskegon when he applied for a pension in March of 1883 (application no. 474,987). However, after being examined by a Pension Bureau physician, his claim was rejected on the grounds that his disability had in fact arisen since his discharge from the army.

After leaving a lodge meeting on Tuesday, November 6, 1883, he fell down a flight of stairs which resulted in his death from apoplexy in Muskegon on November 7. According to the local newspaper:

William Bodendorfer attended the meeting of the Germania Lodge of Odd Fellows at their hall in the Gustin Block Tuesday evening, and at the close of the meeting he started for home in company with some of his brethren. On reaching the stairway he stumbled and fell down stairs, and was badly injured, and the fact of his being a large, heavy man, made the fall a serious one. He was assisted home, but all day yesterday he suffered considerably, and showed symptoms of internal injuries. Last evening he died, to the great surprise of all his friends. He was able to be around at 6 o’clock last evening, but died suddenly at 6:30.

Funeral services were conducted by Rev. W. T. Whitmarsh, and William was buried at Oakwood cemetery: section 2 lot no. 21.

After William’s death Anna married another former member of the Old Third, William’s friend George Schwegler who had divorced his first wife.

1 comment:

Joan said...

Fidele Bail is my relative. He was buried in Arlington, Virginia, but under the wrong name, so it wasnt' until 2002, when my father walked the graves in the first burial section at Arlington, and found Third Michigan Fitchel Barl. Whereupon he investigated records and through the help of our RI Senator, Jack Reed, was able to put the proper name on the head stone, and it wasn't until then that relatives ever knew where Fidele Bail was buried. He was wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness and transported to Washington,D.C. where he became one of the first burials at Arlington.