Friday, September 11, 2009

A soldier's story that has yet to be told

Sometimes I'm able to share an ancestor's story on my blog. Other times, I want to post about questions I have been unable to find the answers for....yet. This is one of those posts.

His name was Karl Gottlieb Kline. He was born in Prussia and emigrated to the United States at some point. He married another German immigrant, Amelia Wendel. They were pioneers in Kansas during the 1880's. I first find them in Douglas County, then Marion County, where they are buried. They are my great-great-great grandparents on my mother's side.

The star shaped emblem to the left of their headstone has the initials "G.A.R. 1861-1865" The Grand Army of the Republic. This was a fraternal organization for Union veterans of the Civil War. It would seem then, that Karl was another civil war veteran in my family tree. Excellent!

Ever since 8th grade, I have been a Civil War buff. I'm not sure what initially captivated me. Our 8th grade social studies teachers showed us a lot of historical movies. We saw the entire series of "Roots," for example. We also saw a movie adaptation of the classic book, "The Red Badge of Courage." It starred Richard Thomas of "The Waltons" fame. For me, that movie put me in the shoes of that young soldier who was so ready to go fight...until he heard the sounds of cannon and gunfire ahead. Perhaps that was what did it. Anyway, I did a lot of reading and learning on my own since then about the Civil War. So I'm very interested in the details of any Civil War service I run across.

Try as I might, I have been unable to track down exactly where Karl's service was. I've gone through all the military databases on I've been to the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. I've even had a difficult time tracking down census records of this family. At one point, I wondered if they really even existed!

Through the kindness of a genealogist friend, (you know who you are...) I have found some census records, the earliest being 1880 in Eudora Township, Douglas County, Kansas. I found a great book online on Kansas Memory: Roster of the Members and Posts: Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Kansas, dated 1894. That would fit my time frame, since Karl died in 1907. I manually went through each of the 259 pages and scanned for any mention of a Karl Kline, Karl Klein, Gottlieb Klein, and all permutations of the three names and spellings as I could. NONE. I guess I could have missed it.....if anyone has some time on their hands and wants to try, I would welcome another set of eyes!

I have found records of another German immigrant who fought for the Union by the name of Gottlob Klien, but he was killed during the war. So he's not my Karl. I'll admit in the haze of frustration, I pondered the possibility that my Karl assumed this poor soldier's identity after he died!

The closest I've gotten to some evidence of Civil War military service is a hazy image on a Kansas census record, but I can't really make it out. The 1895 Kansas census includes information on military record (condition of discharge, state of enlistment, letter or name of company or command, number of regiment or other organization to which attached, arm of service.) It kind of looks like Ohio 122. I've looked into that unit, and can't find any names that are even close. I'll put the record at the bottom of this post for anyone who would like to take a stab at it for me. I'd be happy to email it to anyone who wants the file to enlarge to examine it.

So there you have it. One of the reasons I started this blog in the first place was so that others researching the same family lines as I could connect with me and we could collaborate on information. I'm crossing my fingers and saying a prayer to the genealogy fairies on this one.

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