Alva M. Weller was born on August 20, 1843, in Bullville, Orange County, New York, the son of Theodore V. (1815-1898) and Elizabeth Ann (Rowe).
His father was born in New York and married Elizabeth probably in New York. The family left New York and moved westward. In 1850 Alva was living with his family in Racine, Wisconsin, and by 1860 Alva was living with his parents in Mason, Ingham County, Michigan. (According to a statement he made in 1914. There is no census record extant for this Weller family in Wisconsin. There was one Alva Weller, age 18, working in 1860 as a farm laborer living with and/or working for Nathan Rowley, a farmer in Adrian, Lenawee County, Michigan.)
Alva stood 5’11’’, with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 17 years old and probably living in Ingham County when he enlisted in Company G on May 13, 1861. In late 1861 he suffered briefly from diphtheria “which resulted in an affection of the kidneys, throat and rectum and involving the entire right side,” occurring “in Camp Michigan about December 1861,” and that he “was treated in Regimental hospital by Dr. [Zenas] Bliss.”
Alva eventually returned to duty and was wounded about 4:00 p.m. on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run. According to Weller, he “was stabbed or pricked by a bayonet from an enemy at the fight or battle of Williamsburg Virginia in 1862. I was wounded at the Second battle of Bull Run [Groveton] by receiving a gunshot wound in the right arm and shoulder.” By early September was reported as “slightly” wounded.
Slight or not, by early October he was in Union Hotel hospital in Georgetown, DC, and was eventually sent to New York City for treatment, and according to his attending surgeon, his wound was caused when he was hit “by a musket ball in the right arm,” wrote Dr. Alex Mott in January of 1863, at the Ladies Home hospital in New York City. The ball then entered “the axillary space at about 1 inch below the coracoid process, passing inward, making its exit at about 1 inch below the head of the Os Brachii posteriorly, shattering the bone about its neck. There was great hemorrhage, continuing 24 hours.”
Weller “Was immediately taken to the rear,” continued Dr. Mott, “but the wound was not dressed for 24 hours, when he was taken to Fairfax Station [Virginia] remaining there until the following day. -- Then sent to Georgetown where he was treated for two months -- wounds dressed with simple dressings discharging freely. On November 4th [he] was put aboard the transport Daniel Webster arriving at this hospital Nov. 9th. About one week before leaving Georgetown an abscess was first noticed, forming below the wound at about the insertion of the deltoid muscle. It was opened and discharged freely. Surgeon removing three pieces of bones. When admitted to this hospital patient was much reduced from continued suppuration, wound looked unhealthy. Very soon hospital gangrene set in but was soon checked with undiluted nitric acid, then simple dressings and disinfectants were applied. The wound is now nearly healed, discharging slightly and the patient is gradually gaining the use of the arm.” Mott noted that as of February 1, 1863, Weller was performing guard duty at the hospital in New York.
Weller was transferred to Company G, Tenth Regiment of the Veterans’ Reserve Corps (or the Second Battalion) on October 29, 1863, probably in New York City, and, according to his pension records, he was honorably discharged on June 10, 1864 at New York City.
After the war Alva lived briefly in Colorado before returning to Michigan where he settled back in Mason.
He was working as a laborer and living in Parma, Jackson County by March of 1868, when he applied for a pension (no. 94964), for a gunshot wound to the right arm, drawing $12.00 by 1901, $25.00 from 1913 and $30.00 from 1915. (His father was working as a stone mason in Sandstone, Jackson County in 1870 and he was in Parma in 1880). In 1890 he was living in Mt. Pleasant, Isabella County. Alva eventually moved on to Kansas where he worked as a plasterer and lived most of his life.
By October of 1897 he was living in Kansas, giving his post office address as Box 201 in Leavenworth, Kansas, and in early 1901 he was residing in the National Military Home in Leavenworth (he listed his post office address as 228 Shawnee Street in Leavenworth), and in 1902 he was living at 425 Cherokee Street.
By November of 1908 Alva was living in the National Military Home in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, and was still living in Dayton in September of 1912 when he was examined by Dr. E. S. Breese in Dayton, who wrote that Weller suffered from a “gunshot wound of right arm. Scar of wound entrance depressed, admits half of first joint of thumb. Situated 2 in above & 1 in internal to upper part of anterior axillary fold. Wound of exit depressed, big enough to admit tip of index finger situated along posterior border of deltoid muscle 2 in above highest point of posterior axillary fold. A large cicatrix, oval, 2x3 in, on anterior surface of arm on level of axilla. The scar is adherent to muscle & bone. There has been great destruction of tissue her. The muscles are pushed off to the inner side of the bone. Results. Atrophy. Measurements of the limb vary from 2 in to 3/4 in smaller than those of left arm. There is very noticeable wasting of the thenar, hypothenar and interosseii muscles. The arm is weak, painful, atrophied, and affected with tremor.”
In August of 1913 he was back in Kansas living at 631 Shawnee Street, and in April of 1914 he was living in the National Military Home in Leavenworth. In November of 1920 he was residing at 509 Olive Street in Leavenworth, and was probably a member of L company in the National Military Home.
Alva apparently never married, and he listed his nearest relative as a niece, Dora Weller, living in Mt. Pleasant, Isabella County, Michigan.
He died on June 10, 1921, in the hospital of the Western branch National Military Home (Leavenworth), of acute cardiac dilatation and chronic myocarditis. He was presumably buried in Leavenworth although he does not appear to be listed in the Home burial records.