Saturday, March 3, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 9

The writing prompt for this week is Where There’s a Will. This was a tough one for me as I have very few ancestors for whom I have been able to locate a will. The one will I did find was for Josephine (Hillenbrand) Ashton, my 2nd great-grandmother, and I wrote about her and the will in a previous blog post, which can be found here.

Obviously the word will could be used to express determination, persistence or willfulness as well. I think my 3rd great-grandfather, Andrew Hungler, fits this description, as does his wife Malinda.

Andreas, known as Andrew, was born 22 November 1827 in Niederrimsingen, Baden, Germany to Lawrentz Hungler and Katharina (Willig) Hungler. He was the oldest of 4 children, 3 of whom were born in Germany. Early German and passenger records lead me to believe that the name was spelled Hunckeler or Hunkeler back in Germany. The family of 5 traveled from the port of Havre in Germany to the United States on the ship Orleans, arriving in New Orleans on 28 October 1833. From there they made their way to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Andrew’s younger sister was born.

Andrew married Malinda Harcourt in Cincinnati on 3 December 1848. The couple had 6 children, 4 of whom were born in Cincinnati where Andrew worked as a brick maker. The last two were born across the river in Covington, Kentucky.

On 19 August 1864, the 3rd year of the Civil War, Andrew enlisted as a seaman in the U.S. Navy. His commitment was for 2 years. He was 35 years old, 5’4” tall with hazel eyes and dark hair. The registrar indicated that he had a scar on his right foot. It is curious that he would have enlisted, first due to his own age (the average age of a sailor at that time was 25), but also because his children were 14, 9 and 6 years old, and his wife was 6 months pregnant with their 4th child.

USS Milwaukee
Andrew served aboard the USS Grampus from August 19-21, then on the USS Great Western from August 22-27, and then on the USS Milwaukee from 28 August 1864 until 14 April 1865. An interesting side note is that the Milwaukee was built by James Eads at Union Iron Works Carondelet in St. Louis. She was commissioned on 27 August 1864, and traveled from St. Louis down the Mississippi River.

On the Milwaukee Andrew’s military designation was quartermaster. His duties would have involved navigation and the maintenance, correction, and preparation of nautical charts. He began to experience pain in his legs while aboard the Milwaukee in December of 1864, and by the early part of 1865 he was limping and complaining of overall body pains. He spent time in the sick bay and was barely able to function in his job.

The ship entered Mobile Bay on 1 January 1865. Mobile Bay had been taken by the Union in August of 1864, but the city of Mobile was still in Confederate hands. The Milwaukee encountered a mine while in the area on 28 March 1865 and blew up, but was able to remain afloat. The crew managed to escape with no loss of life, and they were rescued by the USS Kickapoo. On another side note, scrap metal from the Milwaukee was returned to St. Louis, where it was used in the construction of a bridge across the Mississippi which bears the name of the builder, James Eads.

Eads Bridge in foreground

Following the loss of the Milwaukee, Andrew was transferred to the USS Rose, where he remained until 28 July 1865, when he was taken to a hospital in Mobile, Alabama. One can only hope that he was treated appropriately since he was with the Union and the hospital was in Confederate territory. He left the hospital after 3 or 4 weeks. At one point he was listed as a deserter, but once it was determined that he had been in the hospital, he was honorably discharged.

Due to health issues caused by his service he returned home to Covington in September of 1865, crippled and on crutches. He told his family and friends that he had contracted rheumatism while onboard the Milwaukee. The symptoms of the disease were certainly there, with pain, stiffness, and limited motion of joints. Once home, he needed to be lifted in and out of bed and could barely use the crutches as his legs, arms and shoulders were all crippled. He had to be dressed and bathed, and never recovered from his illness. This did not prevent him and Malinda from having another child in 1867, however.

Andrew died 3 May 1869 at the age of 41 following a week of being unable to leave his bed at all. For a month before he passed he had complained of pain in his heart and shortness of breath. His physician, Dr. Frank Noonan, listed heart disease brought on by rheumatism as the cause of death.

Malinda was 37 when her husband died, and her children were 19, 14, 11, 6, 5, and 2. She became a housekeeper to support the family, and was still working in that capacity when, on 26 November 1888, she filed for a Widow’s Pension for Andrew’s service in the military. As with many government applications, things did not move very quickly on her request. Finally, affidavits were filed in April of 1895 asking that the case be expedited as Malinda was feeble and destitute. Finally the government began taking depositions in the case, requiring testimony from Malinda and her surviving children, shipmates, doctors, neighbors and people who knew Andrew before and after his military service. It was not until 1896 that Melinda began to receive $12 per month as the widow of a sailor, and $12 per month for each child who was under the age of 16 when her husband died. In her case, 5 of the 6 children met that criteria. As Malinda died 11 December 1896, she certainly did not receive financial aid for very long.

Andrew was determined to serve his country in the Civil War, and it took a huge toll on his health and ultimately led to his death. His widow, Malinda, showed great persistence in keeping her family together and fighting for her rights as the widow of a Civil War soldier.

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