Felix Maurath

Civilian Wagoner for the Union Army

Felix* MAURATH was born on the 20th of May, 1815 in the northern Black Forest village of Unzhurst (now called Ottersweier), in the state of Baden, Germany.  He came to America with his family at the age of 18 and they first arrived at Cleveland, Ohio.  They made their way downstate and finally settled in Chillicothe, Ross County, Ohio.  Felix ventured on to Cincinnati, where he became a riverboat pilot on the Ohio river with his cousin Bernhardt MAURATH.  His travels often took him to the St. Louis, Missouri area, and in the mid-1830's he settled in Ridge Prairie (O'Fallon), St. Clair County, Illinois, across the Mississippi river from St. Louis.  He married Barbara JACOB at St. Louis in the Old Cathredral, in May, 1839.   Barbara or "Barbe" was born in Lorraine, France, and her family had also come to Cincinnati and then to St. Clair County, IL.  Felix and Barbara's first son Denis was born in the Spring of 1840, and Barbara died as a result of the childbirth.   Denis would later be killed in action as a Union soldier and a member of General "Fremont's Body Guard", in the battle known as "Zagonyi's Charge" in Springfield, MO on October 25, 1861.  Felix later married Barbara's younger sister Josephine, in October, 1844.

In 1842, Felix moved from St. Clair County, IL. to the Soulard area in south St. Louis (then known as "Frenchtown") and built a house on Buel St. (now called S.10th St.) between Marion and Park, behind historic St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Church, which still stands today.  The Germans and French harbored animosities against one another, that fermented through the centuries, especially because of their struggles back in Europe to control the area between the two countries known as Alsace-Lorraine.  Animosities increased in Frenchtown, as more and more Germans immigrated into the area in the 1830's and 40's. As a result, Frenchtown was a volatile area during the Civil War in St. Louis, as the French sided with the South and the Germans sided with the North.  Frenchtown thus, had it's own little Civil War, and this was especially troublesome for the mixed German-French marriage of Felix and Josephine.  In 1852, Felix left the river life and became a "drayman" or wagon hauler in St. Louis.  He was later contracted as a "wagoner" for the Union Army during the Civil War in St. Louis, and it's believed that he may have brought the body of his son Denis back home for burial, in either St. Louis or in Millstadt, Illinois.

The Germans and French continually retaliated against one another in Frenchtown with muggings and killings, and in 1864, as Confederate General Price's invasion of St. Louis seemed imminent, Felix decided to move his family out of dangerous Frenchtown and back to St. Clair County, Illinois.  They settled on a 200 acre farm near Millstadt, where Felix spent the remainder of his life as a "gentleman Latin farmer".  Felix and Josephine had 12 children, and they were very active in St. James Catholic Church.   He died on Christmas Day, 1897, and is buried in St. James Cemetery, Millstadt.   Josephine died in 1909 and is also buried in St. James Cemetery.  The struggles and heartaches of immigrant Americans is apparent in this family story, and so this posting is dedicated to all families, who suffered great losses during the times of our terrible Civil War.  May God continue to spare and bless America and American families from future calamities on our soil.

Photo: dated late 1890's, from the family collection of Barbara (nee MAURATH) ST. CLAIR, currently residing in Santa Barbara, California.Barbara's father was Joseph Albert MAURATH, grandson of Felix and Josephine.  Joseph had gone to school with Edsal FORD in Michigan, and they became good friends.  When Edsal's father started Ford Motor Company, he sought out Joseph MAURATH and made him the person responsible for making the tools that made the parts for all the new cars coming off of the new assembly line.    *"Felix", from the Latin, meaning "the happy one" (despite all of his losses and problems).

Submitted by great-great-grandson, John Louis MAURATH.