Researched, written and submitted by: Eugene Heezen.
Frederick Louis Guelker came to America from Germany on a ship named Carl on November 10th 1859. The ship sailed from Bremerhaven to the Port of New Orleans, The story has it that two of his sisters came with him and that one died and was buried at sea. His sisters may have been married as no Female Guelkers are on the passenger list.
Fred was a shoemaker. It is assumed that like so many
he was looking for a better life in America. That was wishful
as civil unrest had been brewing in America for several years. The
and South were split and the lid blew off on April 12th, 1861 when the
South fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, beginning the Civil War.
Tintype taken in 1886 during the 25th Anniversary of the beginning of the war.
Left to right
Frederick Guelker, unknown, Adam Prinz
Jim Holl Collection
On March 9th, 1862 Fred was enlisted in Company C, 20th Regiment, Louisianna Infantry at the New Orleans barracks by Lieutenant Colonel Boyd. Company C was known as "Reicherd's Rifles" under the command of Colonel Reicherd. Company C was engaged in the bloody battle of Shiloh, Tennessee where Fred was captured by the 14th Wisconsin Volunteers Infantry. His name appears on their list of prisoners dated May 28th, 1862. He was sent to St. Louis where he took an oath of allegiance to the Union.
On March 24th, 1863, Fred was enlisted into the 14th Illinois Cavalry by Lieutenant G. W. Hill at Illinois Town. He was well suited to the cavalry and was given the job as a saddler to Captain William R. Sanford. He took care of the saddles; not unlike his shoemaker occupation.
Years ago my mother told me that her grandfather was so upset with slavery in America that while fighting for the South in his gray uniform, he crawled over to a dead union soldier, changed into his blue uniform and fired in the other direction. His eulogy published in 1931 says: "He could no longer carry a rifle for a cause his heart told him was wrong".
In 1864 General George Stoneman, with the blessing of General Sherman, took the cavalry down south of Atlanta to destroy the railroad at Macon and then proceed down to Andersonville to free 30,000 Union prisoners penned up there. Stoneman and his men were surrounded and he surrendered under a white flag. Fred's unit was led by Colonel Horace Capron who received Stoneman's permission to cut their way out as the unit was made up of many ex-confederate soldiers who would be shot as traitors if captured. But the unit was captured on August 3rd 1864. Frederick was sent to Andersonville prison.
Andersonville prison was built by the South in 1864 and was used until May 1865. More than 45000 Union prisoners had been confined there. Almost 13,000 of them died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, or exposure to the elements. It was a 26½ acre pen of people. On April 9th, 1998, the site became the National Prisoner of War Museum for all wars. Veterans are still being buried there not far from the 12,000 tombstones of the civil war dead.
Frederick was in the Andersonville prison for seven months when he contracted Typhoid Fever. He was taken to the General Hospital at Grafton, West Virginia where he was admitted on March 8th, 1865. He was released from the hospital on April 3rd, 1865. On entering the hospital, Fred showed his next of kin as Wilnule Snyder of St. Louis, Missouri. She may have been his sister. So far a search has not come up with a match in St. Louis. Six days after Fred left the hospital in Grafton, West Virginia, the war was over. He was discharged from service on June 16th, 1865 by Captain James A. Hall in Springfield, Missouri.
Frederick was fortunate not to be one of the 650,000 civil war casualties. As a foreigner, it can be assumed that neither side looked at him with distain and thus was spared. He wasn't even a citizen of the U.S. until 1880. His original civil war discharge and citizenship papers have been framed along with his obituary and eulogy and are on permanent display at the Oconto County Historical Society Museum, Oconto, Wisconsin.
Although we do not know why Frederick came to
America, we do know
that his first six years here were no picnic. The story has it that
he changed sides in the civil war, he was banished from the South
It is not known if he had the option, opportunity, or desire to return
to his homeland in Germany. It is assumed that he did have a sister
maybe in St. Louis. We do know that Fred moved to Wisconsin
through the influence of the men of the 14th Wisconsin Infantry who
him at Shiloh.
and first wife
Eugene Heezen Collection
On January 30th, 1871, 32 year old Fred married 29 year old Francisca Simons in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They had five children. Their first child died at the age of 14 months. The other four children were ages 8, 6, 3, and 1 when Francisca died at the age of 40. Frederick placed his four children in St. Joseph's Orphanage in Allouez, Wisconsin, near Green Bay about 1883.
The youngest child, Clara, died at the
orphanage on February
1st, 1888, at the age of 3. The archives only say she died from
of the bowels.
Elizabeth, Minnie (center), Joseph
The oldest child, Elizabeth, left the orphanage on February, 1st, 1888 at the age of 14. Archive records show that she went to St. Patrick's Church in Maple Grove, Manitowoc County, as a housekeeper for Reverend Conrad Saile. At least that's what the archivist made out of some sketchy records. Elizabeth married Frank Lewis in 1894 at the age of 20. It is said that Frank worked for Rahrs Brewery in Green Bay, Wisconsin. However it is known that they lived in Michigan and had six children.
On December 4th 1889, 13 year old Joseph and 10 year
old Minnie Guelker
left the orphanage and were entrusted back to their father who had
on September 21st, 1889. Frederick married Sophie Wolfgram Schultz, the
widow of William Schultz, in Keshina and they lived in the town of How
(Oconto County). Sophie had for young children by her first marriage.
now Minnie and Joseph had a stepmother, three step-sisters and a
at about age 19
Mini Guelker Holl Collection
In the year 2000 some 200 Penny Postcards and almost
as many picture
were cataloged and preserved. These items had been Minnie's treasures.
It is evident that Fred's and Sophia's kids bonded for life as many of
the postcards were from the step-sisters.
Mini Guelker Holl Collection
Frederick was a stagecoach driver from about 1885 until the railroad came. Joseph Holl ran a stagecoach line. Joseph's two brothers, Peter and Jacob, married Francisca's two nieces. Francisca was Fred's first wife. As apparently everyone knew everyone, it is safe to assume that Fred Guelker was a driver for Joseph Holl's stage line. Most likely Fred moved to the town of How for the job. The veteran's pension act did not come in until 1907 and Fred received 100 per month for the last 17 years of his life; age 75 to 92. He was also foreman at a sawmill at one time.
Frederick's son, Joseph, married Marie Yakel about
1905. They lived
in Suring, Wisconsin and had four sons and three daughters.
in town of Underhill.
Jim Holl Collection
The story has it that Minnie Guelker was a housekeeper at the home of the Baum family of Baum's Department Store in Green Bay. What we know for sure is that she lived with her father and family at he age of 10 and at the age of 19 she moved to Underhill, Wisconsin, to the Forest Home Farm owned by Peter Holl. Peter's wife, the former Elizabeth Prinz, died from Tuberculosis at the age of 32 leaving Peter with two small children, Peter Jr. age 9, and Joseph age 10. Elizabeth was Minnie's first cousin. Their parents were sisters.
Minnie Guelker and Peter Holl Wedding
Rita Neustifter Collection
Minnie took care of the two boys. Helped on the farm and kept house for Peter. She married Peter on October 3rd, 1899. They had seven children, one died at birth and another died at 3 months. Peter died on July 24th, 1911 at age 50, leaving Minnie with five children ages 3 months to 11 years. Also the two step-children ages 22 and 23. She farmed the place successfully with the children. Children of all ages. One of her sons was born with curvature of the spine. Another son lost 3 fingers to Dynamite at the age of 7. Her oldest son died in 1941 at the age of 41 from pneumonia. His wife had died of cancer at he age of 27. He left two children, Peter age 18 and Roland age 16. Minnie took them into her family.
Eventually the children, stepchildren and
grandchildren went their
separate ways and only the youngest son, Matthew, remained on the farm.
He married Ella Heiden in 1937 and they had a son, James, in 1938. The
farm was sold in 1963.
Eugene Heezen Collection
Minnie moved to Green Bay to live with her daughter, Mabel Holl Heezen, in 1957 when she was 78 years old. The old home place in Underhill is still there, but it is tumbled down and grown over. It had been home to Minnie for about 60 years and to some of 18 other people at one time or another. Only two of these people are alive today.
Minnie die at the home of her daughter, Mabel, on January 26th, 1964, at the age of 85. Her son, Julius, died of complications in the same room on March 19th, 1967, at the age of 62. Mabel died there on June 5th, 1994, at the age of 86. I was born there at home. The house was sold in 1966. It is still there at 616 George Street, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Sister of Frederick Guelker
Photo take c:1920
Anna Snyder Kramer Collection
In the first few
years of the 2000's a hopeless
search was made for the family of Wilnule Snyder in and around St.
MO, to no avail.
Thought to be Frederick Guelker
from his sister's belongings
Photo take c:1860
Anna Snyder Kramer Collection
Then in 2005 cousin Rita Neustifter put the preceding story on the World Wide Web. Mind you now, this is 140 years after Frederick Guelker split from his sister. It was shear coincidental happenstance that a lady by the name of Anna Snyder Kramer came upon the Guelker story on her computer in April of 2005. Anna is the great great grand daughter of Frederick Guelker's sister whose correct name was Wilhelmina (Minnie) Snyder. Anna lives near St. Louis. We were fiercely surprised to find each other. We have had countless telephone and e-mail contacts and we met in May and August of 2005. Together we visited Frederick Guelker's grave site and visited with Frederick's only remaining grandchild, 88 year old Emma Guelker Strehlow, who lives in Suring, Wisconsin, where Frederick is buried.
Emma Guelker Strehlow and Anna Snyder Kramer meet in Suring, 140 years after their ancestor siblings parted ways during the Civil War.
Rita Neustifter Collection
Anna's father, Robert William Snyder, had requested her to research their family tree; especially as respects his great grandmother's brother Frederick Guelker who, it was said fought on both sides in the Civil War (1861-1865). Sad to say Anna's "find" in April, 2005, was 3 months after her 81 year old father's death in February, 2005.
According to Anna the story has it that Wilhelmina Guelker came to America at the Port of New Orleans well before her brother Frederick arrived. Maybe Frederick's arrival was planned for him to be at his sister's wedding. As he arrived on November 10th, 1859 and Willhelmina was married to Johann Snyder on December 14th 1859. The wedding was in New Orleans.
We can assume that for a while all was well until Frederick experienced the American Civil War as per the preceding story.
Having been captured by the 14th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry in 1862, Frederick was taken to Benton Barracks in St. Louis. His sister and her husband and their first born child moved to St. Louis presumably to be near Frederick. There they had 5 more children.
Meantime, Frederick joined the Union Army as per the preceding story. His Civil War records form the National Archives contain 4 words to show his next of kin: "Wilnule Snyder Saint Louis." This was the trigger that brought long lost families together in 2005. Frederick Guelker had been banished from the South forever. He went to, or fled to, Wisconsin. His grand daughter Emma Guelker attended to him in his last days in 1931 when she was age 14. She relates that his one request was to see his sister once again. The sister that lived in the South; the South that forbid him to return. Frederick died at the home of his son, Joseph, on February 3rd, 1931. He is buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery west of Suring, Wisconsin. His sister Wilhelmina (Minnie) Guelker Snyder died on February 12, 1823, and is buried in Alton, Illinois.
Why Frederick Guelker went to Wisconsin is still unanswered. In 1862 he was captured by the 14th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. Margaret Dollar (later Holl), my great grandmother's brother was in the unit. His name was John Dollar who was wounded at Corinth. His younger brother, Peter Dollar, was killed there at the age of 19. The Dollar family were 1844 pioneers in Brown County, Wisconsin, and that is where Frederick first came to after the war. Research is being done as respects the Dollar boys in the Civil War in hopes that we can find a Wisconsin link to Frederick's decision to settle there. Maybe, just maybe, someone will read this and come up with something as Anna did!