Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Confirming the Relation to my Civil War Ancestor

A few weeks ago I wrote about some recent developments in the ongoing search to determine my exact relationship to Private William Baumgarten of Co. K, 102nd Pennsylvania. Most of my research has established that my Great Great Grandfather John is likely related to William. I discovered an additional clue in John's obituary, which indicates that John had extended family in Alabama at the time of his death. William had moved to Alabama at some point after the war, and died there in 1921. I was getting closer.

Looking for more answers, I wrote to the Archives and Records Center of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. I figured that church sacramental records might contain some additional information as to the relationship between John and William. I recently received a response, and my request paid huge dividends.

John's marriage record from St. Joseph in Mt. Oliver, dated January 12, 1873, indicates that John (called "Johannum" in the record) was the son of "Joseph Baumgarten." William's father was also Joseph! (Unfortunately, John's mother is not named.) Piecing together all of the evidence that I have uncovered and detailed in previous posts, I am pretty sure that this record confirms that William is John's brother (or at the very least, half-brother). This would make Private Baumgarten my Great Great Great Uncle.

St. Joseph's in Mt. Oliver, built in 1870. The church no longer stands (courtesy of Diocese of Pittsburgh).

The Diocese also forwarded some additional information of interest. The researcher, Suzanne Johnston, could not locate baptismal records for John after searching church documents from 1847 through 1852. Perhaps John was not baptized, or perhaps the records are missing. In any event, she found William's baptismal records from St. Philomena, the first German ethnic parish in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. William received the sacrament on April 20, 1845. His older brother, Reinhard, was baptized there on February 20, 1841. I also learned that the boys had a sister, Maria, who was baptized in the parish on April 21, 1844. All three baptismal records indicate a father named Joseph and a mother named Martha (Marta) Stiz (possibly Stitz or Statz). A previous record had led me to believe that William and Reinhard were paternal half-brothers, but the baptismal documentation proves that both men had the same mother as well.

Five years ago, I had no idea that a Baumgarten had set foot in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century. Now I know that the family reached America's shores long before then. Even more of a revelation is that I have a close family relation through my Great Great Grandfather to a young man who volunteered to fight for the Union. My life-long interest in the Civil War has certainly assumed a more personal and intimate meaning.

In Memoriam

This post, and my research on family history, are dedicated to my recently deceased Aunt Mary Ann and Uncle Richard, two of John's Great Grandchildren. They were thrilled to hear of my discoveries, and I'd like to think they are continuing to read from above.


Richard said...

Great! It's good to see your efforts rewarded. Continued good luck on your search

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks, Richard! Next stop--NARA for William's pension and service records.

Gene Schmiel said...

Ron, Congratulations on seeing the results of your research -- I see many similar commentaries on Facebook about ancestors that people know about, so it is especially rewarding to hear about one you didn't know about, but found.

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks, Gene. It certainly has been a fulfilling search, and the end result took me completely by surprise. As I noted above, I had no clue that the Baumgarten side was even here at the time of the Civil War.

Unknown said...

From Find A Grave. Looks like this may be your William.


Maxwell Elebash
Tuscaloosa, AL

Ron Baumgarten said...


Thanks for your message. That is indeed my William! I have come across this entry before. The gravestone shows his exact birth and death dates, which confirms it is William. How far are you from Cullman? I find it funny that a Yankee veteran from Pittsburgh ended up so far down south! I hope to get more on that story some day.