Monday, May 23, 2011

Stephen Winterhalter

Stephen Winterhalter was born on December 27, 1826, in Baden, Germany.

Stephen left Germany and immigrated to America, eventually settling in western Michigan.

Stephen married Prussian-born Brigetta or Maria Brigette Ekhoff or Eickhoff (1835-1908) on July 25, 1859, at St. Mary’s church in Grand Rapids. (She was possibly related to Ferdinand Eickhof, also born in Prussia and who would enlist in the Band in the Third infantry.) They had at least four children: Mary (b. 1860), Ferdinand (b. 1865), Isabella (b. 1870) and William (b. 1874) and Hugo (b. 1879).

By 1859-60 Stephen was a laborer working for Charles Taylor’s tannery and sawmill in Grand Rapids, and in 1860 he was a farm laborer living with his wife and child and his younger brother Frank (or Franz) in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward. (Ferdinand Eickhof was also living in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward in 1860.)

Stephen stood 5’7” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 34 years old and probably still living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company C on May 13, 1861. (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 was reported as a guard at Brandy Station, Virginia, in February of 1864, and was mustered out of service on June 20, 1864.

After his discharge Stephen returned to Grand Rapids where he probably lived the rest of his life on the west side of the Grand River and for many years worked as a laborer.

In 1865-66 he was working as a teamster and living at 34 Broadway on the west side, in 1867-68 he was living on the east side of Broadway between Second and Third Streets, and in 1868-69 was a laborer working for I. L. Quimby and living near Quimby’s mill (probably on Broadway between Second and Third Streets). By 1880 he was working as a laborer and living with his wife and children in Grand Rapids’ Seventh Ward. Stephen was living at 82 Broadway and employed as a laborer in 1889 and 1890, in the Seventh Ward in 1894.

He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic Champlin Post No. 29 in Grand Rapids, a Catholic and he received pension no. 527,476, drawing $12.00 in 1903 and increased to $20.00 in 1907.

Stephen was living at 84 Broadway when he was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 4136) on October 22, 1903, and remained in the Home until he died a widower of cardiac insufficiency at 7:30 p.m. on March 17, 1909. Funeral services were held at 7:30 a.m. on March 20 at his residence (84 Broadway) and at 8:00 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic church. He was buried in Mt. Calvary cemetery: section C lot 100.

In May of 1909 one Isabella Marshall (possibly Stephen’s daughter) applied for a pension as guardian for William Winterhalter, her younger brother who was listed as a “helpless child.” In fact, according to testimony William was listed as “mentally incompetent” and an ‘imbecile and confined in an asylum.” The pension claim was eventually rejected.

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