Saturday, May 26, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 21

In previous posts I have written extensively about the ancestors in my family who once served in the United States military. So for this post on the writing prompt Military, I will instead talk about a military urban legend in our family tree.

Michael Cramer
My father had been told that his maternal great-grandfather, Michael Cramer, was in the Civil War. In fact, dad had seen with his own eyes a bugle and a rifle which were purported to have been used by Michael in the war. Those were to be passed down to my dad as he was the only male grandchild of Michael. However, somewhere along the line a cousin came to visit my grandfather (dad’s dad), and he asked for the bugle and rifle. My grandfather let him take them, and dad never saw the items again.

Through the years I have attempted to prove or disprove the legend. I was skeptical, because Michael was born 15 September 1853 in New Orleans to Michael and Catherine (Kemper) Cramer. As the Civil War broke out in April of 1861 and ended in May of 1865, Michael would have been only 8-12 years of age when the war was raging. Obviously he would not have been accepted into a regular regiment. He could, however, have been a member of a Fife and Drum Corps. But even that would be a stretch as the average age in the corps was 18.

Unfortunately members of the drum and fife groups were not normally documented, so I have been unable to locate a roster that lists my ancestor’s name. More telling, perhaps, is the fact that in the 1930 census under the box where the census-taker asked if you were a veteran of the U.S. military, “No” was marked by Michael’s name.

So where did the bugle and rifle come from? The only Civil War veteran I have been able to find definitive records on so far was Andrew Hungler, my dad’s 2nd great-grandfather. Perhaps they came from him. How sad that my dad did not have the opportunity to keep such important and historic family heirlooms.

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