Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Immigrants Fought for the Union

One of the surprises that I have had in learning about my family's past is that my father had two grandfathers who had immigrated to Wisconsin in the mid-1800's who fought for the Union in the Civil War. They must have had some pretty strong motivation in the middle of making their way in a new country to put down their plowshares to pick up swords. Both men were farmers near what is now the Kendall and Elroy part of Wisconsin.

Richard William Sherwood, my grandmother's grandfather, Enlisted in Co. E, 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery on August 19, 1864. He mustered out on June 5, 1865. Philip Weber, my grandfather's father, enlisted in Co. B, 17th Wiconsin Infantry. He was in from November of 1864 to July 29,1865.

Richard Sherwood had come to American from Kent County,England in 1851 when he was 21 years old. He was first married in England to Mary Ann Gulvin with whom he had seven children, and later in Wisconsin to her sister, Grace Gulvin, with whom he had three more. Philip Weber had come to America from Germany in 1853 when he was 22 years of age. He also had consecutive wives, Alberdian Doerning and Louise Retzloff and had four children with his first and seven with his second. Apparently there was slightly less risk to survival if you went off to war than if you were staying at home raising children (she says tongue-in-cheek).

These families converged when my grandmother Susan Sherwood, granddaugther of Richard, married Herman Weber, son of Philip Weber. They had a much smaller flock of only four children.

In both cases the pioneering families had come to American and had rented or bought farms in which they had invested much of their resources in the decade before they were called to serve their new country.

They must have seen something worth preserving when they looked at the civil war tearing at the fabric of their adopted homeland. Each of them answered the call. Fortunately both lived to turn their swords back into plowshares and lived long lives, surrounded by family in the green, rolling hills of Monroe and Juneau counties in wonderful Wisconsin.