History: Soldiers Long Ago (2009)

Contact:: Robert Lipprandt

Email: bob@wiclarkcountyhistory.org 

Surnames: Ackeret, Adleer, Balz, Barr, Bernam, Brisbois, Chapman, Collier, Dillon, Ewald, Follmar, Franklin, Hansen, Hickok, Hirsch, Hunsader, Johnson, Jolivette, Krenz, Kreutzer, Leonard, Lincoln, McIntyre, Matrhias, Merrill, Metz, Monaque, Pangburn, Petre, Phillips, Ploof,  Rietz, Sanduskay, Schillinger, Shelley, Sherman, Sterling, Stienbach, Stephens, White  

----Source: The Tribune - Phonograph (Abbotsford, Clark Co., WI), Wednesday, October 23, 2009, Supplement to The Tribune - Phonograph, Rural Living 

Civil War Veteran Found Their Final Rest in Local Cemeteries.   

When the Civil War broke out, Wisconsin had only been around for 13 years and most o this area wasn’t even named.  Yet this state produced the highest percentage of volunteers of any, and central Wisconsin provided new life and final resting place for many of the men who fought in that war.   

Finding The Veterans.   

For Althea Balz of Athens, finding Civil War veterans is a natural extension of her own heritage.   

Through her work as the secretary/treasurer of the Athens Cemetery Association she has uncovered four men who served in the Civil War and is wondering about a fifth.   

They are: William Rietz (Co. K, 29th Wis. Reg.), James Leonard (Co. C, 6th Wis. Inf.), Frank Bernam (Co. A, 7th Wis. Inf.), and Michael Metz (no enlistment information available.) She also said Andrew Kreutzer (1935-1895) is listed as a veteran but didn’t know if he was in the Civil War.   

Bal pointed out Leonard was born May 28, 1815, enlisted November 3, 1864, and was discharged July 14, 1865, making him 40 years old when the war ended.   

"That really impressed me," she said.   

The shortage of personnel was so severe any able-bodies man was expected to fight. Approximately 620,000 soldiers died in four years of conflict, coming out to almost 600 dead per day.   

To put the conflict’s enormous losses on some sort of scale, consider this: more Union men died from drowning in the Civil War (4,944) than from all factors in America’s current war in Iraq. There were 51,100 casualties at the bloodiest and most pivotal battle of the Civil War, Gettysburg. That’s more that the total of all combat-related deaths in the Vietnam War (47,400).    

"The war had depleted manpower that badly," Balz said.   

Balz’s great-grandfather, Friedrich Krenz, was lucky enough to survive the Civil War. He was a surgeon with Co. I of the 3rd regiment of Wisconsin volunteers, also serving in 1864 and 1865. He died in 1905 and has the tallest gravestone in the Big Hill Cemetery in the town of Berlin in Marathon County.    

Closer Connection.   

One man in the area has a very direct connection with the Civil War. Jerry Ackeret of Dorchester has a grandfather, Vincent Hirsch, who served in the war.   

While that seems like far too long ago to claim that direct of an ancestor, Ackeret noted his family’s generations were widely spaced out and there’s another factor common to many Civil War vets. After the war Hirsh married Mary Ann Phillips, who was 25 years younger than him.   

Some women deliberately went into May-December marriages to get their share of the men’s pensions. In fact, the last Civil War widows survived into the 2000’s.   

Hirsch’s service was extensive, fighting in 22 battles and skirmishes. He was with Gen. Sherman on the "March to the Sea." (Ackeret’s family later followed that route.) After the war he participated in  the Grand Review, a celebration of the end of hostilities in Washington, D.C.  

After homesteading southwest of Medford, Hirsch was later buried there. Ackeret said he and his family are planning on getting a legacy stone to place on the grave. He has been impressed with the treatment of veterans’ gravesites in the area.  

"I was surprised when I moved here 35 years ago how well the gravestones have been preserved," he said.   

Ackeret is hoping to honor the Civil War veterans next Memorial Day. He noted many have had their final resting places preserved, while others haven’t been as lucky.   

"I’m afraid that some of these graves have disappeared. Originally some just had wooden crosses," he said.   

Where They Are.   

There are at least 120 Civil War veterans buried in more than 20 cemeteries in western Marathon and northeastern Clark Counties.   

A volunteer group, the Clark County History Buffs, has compiled cemetery records from across the region and they are available for research at the website:


Marathon County’s Civil War veterans could easily number more than 200 in the area.   

The Colby cemetery has the lion’s share of them with more than 50 men resting there. they include George Collier, Carl Ewald, John Schillinger, Peter Steinbach and Nathaniel White. The cemetery in the town of Brighton on Pine Road has 15 who are known.   

Dorchester Memorial Cemetery is next with as least 13. That includes John Sterling and Silas Stephens who have some disagreement about their final days. Stephen’s tombstone marks his date of death at May 2, 1911, but veterans records say it’s six years later. Sterling’s tombstone disagrees with veterans records by more than 12 years.    

Sterling, a member of Company E of the 18th Wisconsin Infantry, has been noted for distinguished service. Stephens was one of the last survivors in the state who marched through the South with Gen. Sherman.   

Dick Hunsader of Dorchester has been working to honor the Civil War soldiers there. He initially wanted to recognize those "forgotten heroes" by at least finding out where they are. Now he hopes more people will take notice.   

"Maybe we can get a movement where people bring an extra flower or two and put one on a grave with a flag on it," he said.   

Another four are documented in the Norwegian Cemetery in Dorchester. They are: Andrew Johnson (1st Sergeant, Co. D, 29th Inf. Reg.), Truman McIntyre (Co. G, 2nd Wis. Cav. Reg.), James F. Barr (8th Wis. Light Artillery Battery) and John Monique (Co. I, 17th Ill. Cav. Reg.).   

The Abbotsford cemetery has at least five (Thomas Dillon, John Merrill, Sandusky Petre, Petrie D. Sanduskay and Joseph Ploof).  

St. Paul’s Cemetery near Curtiss has two who can be honored and another who can at least be recognized. Addie Hickok and Adolph Matthias served through their deployments in the Civil War. Gabriel Brisbois did not. He briefly served in an infantry unit out of Knowlton but later deserted.  

Some, unfortunately, have been lost. Henry Franklin Shelley’s final resting place seems to have been plowed under. He was born in Brothertown, Wis., in 1834 and married Almire Pangburn in 1860. In the war he was a private in Company E of the 21st Wisconsin Infantry. He was wounded in the battle of Chapin Hills and spent a year in a hospital recovering.   

His wife died in 1887 and was buried in what source documents call the Unity Township Cemetery. (That is somewhat confusing because the town of Unity only has two cemeteries now. One is for the Mennonites on Starks Road and the other is for St. John’s Lutheran Church of Riplinger and is near the southern intersection of CTH’s K and Q. It’s possible she’s in a cemetery on Fairhaven Avenue or on Pine Road, but those are both in the town of Brighton.) 

When Henry Franklin died in 1902, he was laid to rest on a private farm cemetery owned by Joe and Dorothy Chapman in the town of Unity. The Chapmans then sold the farm and sale papers specifically stated the burial site was not to be farmed over. The new owners ignored it, farmed over the land and all records regarding the site were lost.   

Most Civil War veterans in Marathon County were laid to rest in Wausau’s Pine Grove Cemetery but others can be found throughout the western part of it.  

There are five in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Marathon, three in Big Hill Cemetery and another three at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in the town of Cleveland. There is at least one in the following cemeteries: St. John’s (town of Hamburg), St. Peter’s (town of Hamburg), Hillside (town of Rib Falls), St. Patrick’s (Halder) and Rib Falls Methodist Cemetery (town of Stettin).  

Already Honored.   

The Wallis-Hinker Post 238, Greenwood American Legion sponsored a major tribute to the Civil War veterans buried in the Greenwood Cemetery. With the help of the Clark County Internet Library History Buffs, the post did the research and published a 120 page booklet, "Civil War Soldiers in the Heart of Clark Co., Wisconsin." It contains the obituaries and biographies of many Civil War veterans who lived in or are buried in Clark County.   

Dick Adler, a member of the Greenwood post, coordinated a program to honor all veterans, especially the Civil War on August 8th, at Greenwood High School. Funds were raised to purchase new grave markers for those who were not properly identified. The US Veterans Affairs Department furnished 12 bronze markers and the legion purchased 27 stones. Company B, of the 2nd Wisconsin Civil War Re-enactors along with the Greenwood Legion honor guard dedicated the new markers.   

At the cemetery, following prayer by Fr. Joseph Follmar, Jason Hansen portrayed Abraham Lincoln by reciting the Gettysburg Address. Following Mr. Lincoln’s visit to a number of graves, a musket volley was conducted by Co. B, 2nd Wisconsin Re-enactors. Post commander Burton Jolivette said the mission of the legion was that "no veteran ever rest in an NOTE: The old soldiers article ends here on page 15 of the "Rural Living" section of the Tribune - Phonograph.



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