Thursday, May 26, 2011

Anton Wohlrub

Anton Wohlrub was born on November 28, 1845, in Friedland (possibly on Reichenburg Strasse), Bohemia, Austria.

Anton left Austria and immigrated to America, eventually settling in western Michigan sometime before mid-1862.

He stood 5’6” with gray eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was a 15-year-old cloth dresser possibly living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted with the consent of his guardian, George Warfel, in Company C on August 14, 1862, for 3 years, crediting Grand Rapids. (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.) He joined the Regiment on September 18 at Fairfax Seminary, Virginia.

Not long after he joined the Regiment, Anton demonstrated a significant mental disorder. On March 4, 1863, Walter Morrison, Assistant Regimental Surgeon, examined Wohlrub and certified “that he is suffering from insanity to such an extent as to render confinement necessary, not only for his own safety but that of others,” and he recommended that Wohlrub be confined in the government Insane Asylum in Washington. The following day, March 5, Colonel B. R. Pierce, commanding the Third Michigan, wrote to assistant Adjutant General O. H. Hart, that Wohlrub “is insane so much so that it is dangerous for him to be at large, and it requires two or three men to take care of him.” Pierce asked for an order allowing him to send Wohlrub to the Insane Asylum in Washington, DC. The request was apparently granted and Wohlrub was in the Washington insane asylum from March 13, 1863, until he was discharged for “insanity” on May 19, 1863, at Washington, DC, by order of the Secretary of War.

According to his brother Charles, Anton had suffered a sunstroke at Fairmount (perhaps he meant Falmouth), Virginia, which produced his incapacitation by “insanity.”

Whatever happened, Anton apparently reentered the service in Company D, Tenth Michigan cavalry on August 26, 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 either was discharged or deserted on August 6, 1865.

After the war Anton returned to Michigan and was in and out of the Kalamazoo “Insane Asylum” for many years. By 1891 he was under the guardianship of his brother Charles, who was residing in Berrien County. By 1915 Anton was living in the Kalamazoo Insane Asylum, where he had been residing for some twenty years, under the guardianship of another brother, Rudolph Wohlrub, of Niles, Berrien County.

According to Michigan Congressman E. L. Hamilton, in a letter dated June 19, 1915, to G. M. Saltzgraber, Commissioner of Pensions, Wohlrub had served in Company C, Third Michigan infantry, “for the full term of his enlistment [not true], and who is reported to have deserted from his second enlistment in Company D, 10th Michigan Cavalry, August 6, 1865.” However, the congressman continued, “Wohlrub’s case is most unusual, and it seems to me that it present a situation which ought to be especially considered. His service until his alleged desertion, which occurred after hostilities had practically ceased, was faithful and meritorious. For approximately twenty year he has been a patient of the Kalamazoo Insane Asylum. . . . He has always been eccentric until it became necessary to place him in confinement, and he is, of course, now in no position to recall any of the details of his army experience. he is totally unable to contribute any information which might throw light upon the circumstances which caused him to leave his command, and I am writing you in hope that it may be possible to do something to help him.”

Hamilton added in a postscript that it is “My impression from what I have been told is that Wohlrub was mentally unsound when he left the service & has been mentally unsound ever since, with lucid intervals.”

The request was granted and the charge of desertion removed from Wohlrub’s record, replaced by an honorable discharge.

Anton was a Catholic. In 1892 he applied for and received a pension (no. 2,457,653), dated September of 1915, drawing $18.00 per month, increased to $24 in November, and $40 by December of 1918.

He died on January 17, 1919, in Niles, Berrien County, and was presumably buried there. At the time of his death his guardian was listed as one Lillian Wohlrub (perhaps a sister or sister-in-law) living in Niles.

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