Saturday, February 4, 2023

Sergeant Philip Gantzschier, 12th Indiana Infantry

 Here is one of the stories I've found while searching for Civil War veterans from Campbell County. I have occasionally shared a few here and might try to do that a little bit more often, as there are many interesting stories. This one is fairly short and basic, though with a sad ending.

Like for many Americans in the mid-nineteenth century, immigration was vital in the life of Philip Gantzschier.

He was born on May 19, 1836, in the Hoosier State of Indiana, but was a son of parents from Baden, Germany, and his spouse, Mary Ann Meyer, was from Prussia.  

When the Civil War broke out, he joined company C of the 12th Indiana Infantry Regiment, a one-year unit in which he served as a sergeant from May 9, 1861 until May 19, 1862.

The one-year itineration of the 12th Indiana Regiment had organized in Indianapolis and, after being transferred from state service to U.S. service, spent time in the eastern theater of the war through Maryland, Virginia, and the area that became West Virginia, before marching to Washington D.C., where they mustered out of the service in May 1862 as their term expired.                                           

Philip eventually made his way to Campbell County, Kentucky, living in Bellevue in 1872. He worked as a carpenter and helped his wife raise one daughter, Estella, though they also had a son, Willie, who died at just seven months of age.

Estella, unfortunately, only lived until 1892, when she died at age 23, and more sadness arrived when Philip’s wife Mary Ann passed away in 1897.

He later remarried to a woman named Mathilda, but she too passed away before Philip, in 1907.

On March 26, 1910, Philip entered the Dayton, Ohio branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. At the time, he stood 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes, and gray hair. He held Protestant religious views and was able to read and write. His occupation was still that of a carpenter, and his nearest family was a nephew in Indianapolis. He was receiving a military pension of $17 per month.

National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Dayton, OH

Almost exactly a year later, on March 25, 1911, while on furlough from the soldier’s home, Philip was admitted to Speers Hospital in Dayton, Kentucky, suffering from heart trouble. This was not unusual, as the Kentucky Post reported “he had been a frequent patient at the hospital and was assigned to the room he was always given.”1

Speers Hospital, Dayton, KY

On the 28th, his attending physician, Dr. Sherwood Garrison2 visited Philip, who made a comment that perhaps should have received more attention: "Doctor, I wish I had something to put me out of this misery."

The doctor did not recognize the foreshadowing and simply replied "Why you are better, aren't you?" to which the patient responded "Yes, I am. Thanks, Doc."

About 6:00 that evening, a nurse brought Philip his supper, then left to return to other duties. When she returned a few minutes later, “the aged man was lying there with the bottle clasped in his hand. It had been concealed in the pocket of his overcoat.”3

The bottle had contained carbolic acid, “a very poisonous substance made from tar and also found in some plants and essential oils…Carbolic acid is used to make plastics, nylon, epoxy, medicines, and to kill germs.”4

The hospital notified his doctor who contacted the county coroner to confirm the cause of death, which the death certificate noted as “carbolic acid poisoning, suicidal intent,” and that the poison was “self-administered.” Contributing factors were melancholy due to old age, disease of heart and hemorrhoids.

The newspaper mentioned that the coroner believed concern about his condition was the source of Philip’s melancholy, but loneliness may have also added to it.

His ability to bring poison into the hospital seems, at best, unusual in the current day, but times were different as the Post noted “none of the private patients are ever searched and the hospital authorities had no suspicion that Gantschier (sic) had a bottle” of that chemical in his jacket. The story claimed that he had died “with a smile on his lips” and the bottle “clasped in his hands.”

Philip was described as “well known” to the people of Bellevue, where he had been a member of the Granville Moody Post of the Grand Army of the Republic.5

He was buried in Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery, alongside his family, who all share the same headstone, including Philip, his two wives, and the two children.

Photo from memorial # 78935949

Photo from memorial # 78935948

1Kentucky Post, March 29, 1911
2, Accessed November 11, 2022
3Kentucky Post, March 29, 1911
4, Accessed November 11, 2022
5Kentucky Post, March 29, 1911

Friday, January 20, 2023

New Books as Christmas Gifts

I received a gift card to use on books for Christmas and settled on these three, plus a couple e-books. (I’m not a big fan of e-books, but the prices were so good, I figured I could get over it.)

“And There was Light” is good so far - it reminds me of some familiar parts of Lincoln’s life but brought up stuff I did not recall, and has provided good perspectives on his thoughts on slavery snd his struggles with colonialization, how to deal with freed slaves, and his views on the relationship between the races in society and politics. It’s certainly neither hagiography nor a butchering of the President

Hopefully I can do more reading this year. I’m still researching and writing, but more reading would be good too. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Private Foster Caseman, Company D, 23rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry

Photo from findagravecom, memorial 66529335

Private Foster Caseman was born in Hamilton County, Ohio, perhaps in Cincinnati, in 1841.

In 1860, he resided in the area of Tibbatt’s Cross Roads, in southern Campbell County, Kentucky, which lies just across the Ohio River from the Buckeye State. 

He enlisted in company D of the 23rd Kentucky Infantry at Camp King, in Covington, Kentucky, on December 4, 1861. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, had a dark complexion, brown eyes, and black hair. He worked as a farmer. 

His time in the unit may not have been easy, as the 23rd saw a lot of action in major battles and campaigns. Foster must not have liked his military experiences, and deserted from the regiment on August 2, 1862. He did, however, return on March 30, 1863, after President Abraham Lincoln had issued a proclamation of amnesty for deserters who returned to their units by April 1, 1863.

About six months after his return, he lost his life on September 19, 1863, at the Battle of Chickamauga in northern Georgia. This was the second bloodiest battle of the entire war (behind Gettysburg) per the American Battlefield Trust. Foster was just one of 16,170 Union men who were killed, wounded, or missing during and after that fight, which also included 18,454 Confederate casualties.  It was “by far the deadliest battle fought in the west.” 

Private Caseman was buried in the Chattanooga National Cemetery. 

The accompanying photograph came from Nothing  indicates when the photo was taken, but it shows a very young-looking man, though it does not seem to show a “dark” complexion that his paperwork claimed.

This is, perhaps, how he appeared when he met his demise, one of so many young men cut down by the long, bloody war.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

More Thoughts on My Continuing Project

 I'm not really sure what to title this  post, but it is, again, just an update on the book project that has been my focus for the  last couple of years now. 

A few weeks ago, I had a copy of my "all combined" file printed. This file was a combination of all my completed stories in one large Word document. I  just really wanted to see what it looked like in "real life" and not just on a screen.

It ended up being 199 pages (including  front and back) and about 95,000 words, and looked terrific!

It was pretty cool to see and hold, I must admit. 

It's also cool to be able to hand it to other people to look at and give me feedback. It has been positive commentary so far. 

We've also uncovered a few typos ("there" instead of "three" "city" instead of "century" and two stories in reverse alphabetical order by mistake) but I had not tried to proofread every word of every story yet. This is a work in progress, and I'm sure other such issues remain in it but having something so tangible and "real" is a good feeling. It's good to see and hold it and see the information I have assembled.  I hope this isn’t a case of “pride goes before the fall,” but I am happy with what I have created thus far.

I did submit a brief questionnaire to one publisher. The only response I received so far was a question  if the book was only about the profiles or about the home front of Campbell County during the war. I replied and have not heard back yet, but I presume my subject did not totally interest him at first, but that is fine. It still is fascinating  me, both in what I am learning and how enjoyable it has been, even if my idea is rejected. 

Also, I must admit that a look at the county's home front during the war is another idea that intrigues  me. I put together a quick list of ideas that could apply to such a topic. That approach strikes me at first as much more complicated and requiring more detailed research, but it's also a topic that has not been explored in this region, and I do have some thoughts on how to approach it. Some of the stories I've uncovered in my current research could fit into that topic.

I'm still working on this first project as I had planned, but  maybe the home front during the war is an idea for the future. I'll keep an eye out for appropriate material as I continue to research the individual soldiers and sailors. 

And I have not necessarily given up hope on having my work published as a book. Other options are available and I am actually glad to have received that suggestion and comment in reply to  my  initial inquiry. This project is a big one and I will keep plugging away at it especially as I continue to find interesting stuff.

In the last week or so, I found a local man who was a victim of the Sultana disaster. That was a great surprise and certainly a story I must tell. 

I also was looking up a soldier’s name and found a man who had been arrested for cutting down an American flag. It was almost certainly a civilian with the exact same name and does not fit the scope of my book, but I thought it was a neat find too. I’ll find a way to share that with others (besides the blog’s Facebook page.) it’s at least one possible story of the war’s home front in Campbell County. 

I also found out that the last Civil War veteran living in Campbell County was Cornelius Green Cannon, an African-American who served as an under cook in the 23rd Missouri Infantry. He died in 1944 and I’ll certainly add his story to my project. 

Hopefully the discoveries keep on coming. It’s really fun to uncover stuff like the man on the Sultana or names of other Campbell County men who served. Whatever sports in thffuture,mi have learned a lot snd had quite a bit of fun so far. 

Friday, August 26, 2022

80, 000+ words

Still working on this little project of mine, and I became curious about how many words I was stringing together across these profiles.

I first created an Excel spreadsheet and listed all my nearly finished stories with their word counts and let the auto-sum feature add them all up.

This  showed well over 70,000, words at the time, but as I kept adding more, I wanted more information, so I copied and pasted all the ready stories in a single Word document.

This not only shows about 80,000 words total at this point, but it’s also more than 150 full sized 8.5 by 11 pages.


I guess that is not much compared to other works, or to what experienced authors have done,  but it seems like a lot to me, especially since I am not yet completely finished. I suspect that I have completed most of the stories, but that some good ones still remain to be found and written.

This process of putting g all the stories together has also helped me in the organization of the stories. I found two instances where I had one story for one man and a second story for his brother(s), but discovered that  they worked better  when combined together. This meant I have fewer stories/chapters, but about the same number of words, and a more sensible arrangement.

On one of these, I even found a genealogical mistake in one because two people in the distant family had the exact same name and I had used the wrong one as a Civil War soldier. It was actually the younger man who served, and this process let me see and correct that. Fortune was on my side for sure. 

I still have no idea how long this will be when  I do finish it, but to think it will be beyond the 80, 000 word count still  strikes me as pretty cool as does the continued progress.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Local Families in the Civil War

 A lot of people have seen or heard the Civil War referred to as a "brother's war" because of the instances of family members fighting on opposite sides (Mary Lincoln's Confederate brothers and Kentucky's Crittenden family are two famous examples) but there were also many cases of family members fighting on the same side, a point that I am learning more and more through my research into Campbell County soldiers and sailors. 

When I started this project, I knew of the Seither brothers - three fought for the Union, but a fourth had moved to New Orleans in the years before the war and became a Confederate soldier - but did not know of any other Campbell County families that had fought in the war. I was obviously foolish, and perhaps naive, but I now have confirmed at least 30 (thirty!) instances of brothers, fathers/sons, and cousins from Campbell County fighting for the Union cause. I certainly never expected to find so many. I've even found some where three or four brothers joined the war effort. Four brothers in the war were grandsons of a Revolutionary War soldier whom the Daughters of the American Revolution are going to honor later this year. That was pretty cool to find. 

Even a couple of weeks ago, when I realized I had found a few examples and decided to look into it more closely to figure out just how many I had uncovered, I did not think it was such a high number.  I'm still surprised, but I do realize that there are probably even more out there that I haven't found (especially cousins or uncles/nephews - the set of cousins I know of only came to my attention because they were distant ancestors of mine.) 

This whole research adventure has been quite fun and educational to me, with the presence of so many families having multiple members fight in the war being the latest example. I have started a separate document to try to track them, and I have a few more names listed to research as possibilities, but who knows what else might pop up to attract my attention and time.

I still need to decide eventually what to do with all this information. A book would be ideal, but is it realistic? I want it to be, but I wonder if anybody else wants to read all this or if my work is good enough to be published. Oh well, I'm enjoying what I'm finding and will make other decisions as I need to, but I thought this was a good excuse to publish another blog post.

Hopefully I will have other interesting finds and observations to share as this process continues.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Making Progress on Book (or Am I?)

I’m still working on what I hope turns out to be a book on Civil War Soldiers and Sailors from Campbell County, Kentucky, and have made some good progress recently, though if this progress creates more work is it truly progress?

I think so, at least in terms of the quality of this work.

I was working on the finishing touches of an interesting but brief story of a local soldier who had been executed while running from soldiers sent to capture him and return him to the regiment. I thought I just needed to confirm one tidbit, then do some quick proofreading and it would be finished, but, instead, I found out much more information about his family, including two of his older brothers who were arrested by Union officials for harboring him while he was AWOL.

One signed the Oath of Allegiance, a copy of which remains in his file. It is the first copy of an oath that I have found associated with any of these men. Maybe I’ll find more when I work more in the Confederate side, but this really excited me.

The other brother of the executed soldier actually ended up joining a Union cavalry regiment about fifteen months after his brother’s death. A local genealogy site includes an unsourced article claiming this brother suffered a couple major wounds in his time in the service. I need to look further into that as nothing about it was on Fold3 at first glance. The idea that he joined the Union army after one brother was executed for desertion and after he and his other brother were arrested truly blows my mind, even baffles me. It’s just a fascinating turn of events. This is now one of my favorite stories.

I will, of course, double check this latest information to make sure I did not miss something or am not overreacting, but this is the kind of find that makes research interesting, even dare I say fun, at times. 

This will allow me to add genealogical information to my original story idea, but I’m now wondering if I should keep my original story and add all this information to it or limit my story to the basics I originally found and then add a second story with more family details on it, including the oath and the oldest brother’s service.

Decisions, decisions.

Even though this might slow me down, I actually am very happy to find this additional knowledge. I’ll figure out soon enough how to handle it, but I’m glad that’s an option. This story is now even more intriguing to me.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Book Review: Murder on the Ohio Belle Murder on the Ohio Belle eBook : Sanders, Stuart W.: Kindle  Store
Stuart W. Sanders 
Copyright 2020
University Press of Kentucky

Murder on the Ohio Belle is not a Civil War book, but covers the war era including the generation of people who brought on and fought the war, thus making it a worthwhile read for those focused on the fighting years. Mid-nineteenth century culture is the main theme of this work, as seen through the experiences of one steamboat, its crew and passengers.
As its title implies, Murder tells the story about a killing (actually two) that took place on the steamboat Ohio Belle, but it goes well beyond that, serving as sort of a biography of mid-nineteenth century steamboat and American culture, or at least many aspects thereof.

This book starts with a strong introduction. Many works use such a start to explain the author’s goals for the book, but few are as straight-forward and effective as the this one.

The hope of this book is to “help us better understand nineteenth century riverine culture.” (page 2) It explores the relationship northern owned boats and their crews had with slavery and slave culture along the Ohio River.The phrase “fluid border” between free states and slave states was literally true, since the waters of the Ohio formed much of that border. The author shows that these boats profited from, and thus supported, slavery with the business they conducted in the south.

Sanders further pledges to explore“how Americans contended with violence” (page 3) such as murder, lynching, and warfare, and argues “the history of the Ohio Belle also presents a portrait of how western antebellum society embraced retribution.” (page 4)

This work considers a variety of period cultural issues, such as “interpersonal violence, slavery, honor culture, and retribution.” (page 4)

The introduction comes to a definitive conclusion: “A single event…can illuminate a more important, broader narrative about our past.” The plan is to show readers “important themes from the nineteenth century that are still relevant today” (page 5), such as vigilantes, injustices, and others.

“History, including the tale of a murder on a steamboat, still matters” is an apt final sentence to this introduction.

The book lives up to the promises and goals listed in its beginning. It does so mostly in a chronological fashion, but does jump ahead and back at appropriate times to tell the story fully. 

This is not a long book. It has an introduction, eight chapters and a conclusion which combine to take up 111 pages, including the acknowledgements, but does also feature 30 pages of notes, some of which include information beyond the citations. This length, and the writing style of the author, make it a quick and easy read, so anyone worried about finding enough time to read an entire book should still consider this one.

Besides the telling of the story of the actual murders, and how it parallels mid-nineteenth century American behavior, this book also details the career of John Sebastian, the captain of the Ohio Belle, and how he dealt with those issues on his boat.

Another interesting aspect of this work is the story of Margaret Garner. Many people have heard or read  of her escape from slavery in Boone County, Kentucky, across the Ohio River to Cincinnati, where she killed her young daughter instead of letting slave catchers capture her. This book details more of her story after that incident, as she was sent downriver aboard a steamboat.This part of her story is not as famous as her attempted escape, but does include more heartbreak. Her tale was an unexpected but valuable addition to the study of the region's culture at the time. Few stories illustrate the nature of slave-state Kentucky’s proximity to the free state of Ohio as clearly as hers does.

Violence, revenge, honor, and the definition of a “gentleman” (and expectations of such a man’s behavior and interactions with others) are concepts that appear throughout the book, and are familiar to Civil War students. The use of alcohol, mixed with gambling and traits like pride, honor, and the tradition of carrying concealed weapons was a common contributor to problems, including occasional mob violence. This behavior on “the Ohio Belle, and other vessels was simply a reflection of behavior on land during this period.” (pages 58-9) This book provides examples of this, including in the river city of Louisville.

Class distinctions – particularly between wealthy planters and “lower” economic classes, but also between races – were ever present in how people behaved on land and water.

Of course, the defining event during the steamboat era of the mid-nineteenth century was the Civil War, and chapter seven dives into it, how it affected the Ohio Belle  (captured by the Confederacy) and John Sebastian (he lost his left arm during the conflict.) It was the ultimate example of violence during the era, but these years also continued to demonstrate the dangerous desire and search for vengeance, much like during peace time.
Overall, this is a fine book for anybody who enjoys history, but it also covers topics that should interest those focused on the Civil War, river history or social/cultural history in mid-1800s America. This book is a pleasure to read. I happily recommend it.

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