Elmwood cemetery Detroit

William Von Wagner

William Von Wagner was born in 1829 in Braunschweig, Brunswick, Germany.

William was married Wurtemberg native Catherine (b. 1826) and they had at least two children: Mary (b. 1851) and Martin (b. 1859. William was living in Wurtemberg in 1851 and 1859, but eventually he and Catherine left Germany and immigrated to America, settling in western Michigan sometime before the war broke out. (He may have been living in Detroit’s Fourth Ward in 1860.)

He stood 5’6” with blue eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion and was a 32-year-old cigar maker probably living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company C on May 13, 1861. (Company C was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles,” a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.)

“William” was reported AWOL in August of 1862 and was tried by a court martial in September for having deserted for 12 days while the regiment was on the march to Centreville, Virginia. The regimental surgeon testified that he was sick with piles and had given him a ‘straggling pass.” He was found not guilty.

William was in the Regimental hospital in October. By April of 1863 he was sick in the Division hospital where he apparently remained through May, and was again sick in the hospital in August. He apparently recovered his health, however, and reenlisted on December 21, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Grand Rapids. William was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.

He was shot in the left side on May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania, Virginia, admitted to Douglas hospital in Washington, DC on May 16, and was transferred to Summit House hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 27, listing Charles Houbel (also of Company C) as his nearest relative. He was still hospitalized when he was transferred to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and remained absent wounded through April of 1865. He was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

He apparently returned to Michigan.

In 1870 William was working as a laborer and living with his wife and two children in Detroit’s Fourth Ward in 1870. William was still living in Detroit in 1880. He was living in Detroit around 1893 when he provided an affidavit in the pension application of Rolandus Freet who had also served in Company C during the war.

In 1868 William applied for and received a pension (no. 174808).

William reportedly died in Detroit and was buried in Elmwood cemetery.

His widow applied for and received a pension (no. 239970).

James Culhan

James Culhan, also known as “Cullen”, was born around 1843, probably in Ireland.

James was 18 years old when he enlisted in the Regimental Band on June 10, 1861.

He was discharged at Detroit on June 13, 1861, on a writ of habeas corpus, reason unknown, but possibly as a consequence of being a minor who had enlisted with the consent of a parent or guardian (or Justice of the Peace).

James' Third Michigan service record notes that he did subsequently serve in the Band of the First Michigan Cavalry, and in fact, he did reenter the service in the Band, First Michigan cavalry on September 23, 1861, while it was being organized at Detroit, giving his age as 29 (!). The regiment left Michigan for Washington on September 29 and was subsequently attached to the Cavalry Brigade, Army of the Potomac to December of 1861. James was honorably discharged on September 4, 1862 at Ball’s Crossroads, Virginia (presumably subsequent to the elimination of the Regimental bands in the Army of the Potomac).

James eventually returned to Michigan after he left the army, and eventually settled in Detroit.

He was married to Michigan native Mary E. (b. 1845), and they had at least one child: Margaret (b. 1880). Mary had been married before to one Mr. Edwards and had four children from her previous marriage: Mary (b. 1864), Annie (b. 1868), John (b. 1871) and Lottie (b. 1874).

By 1880 James was working as a musician and living with his wife and stepchildren on Abbott Street in Detroit.

James was probably the same James Culhan who was a civil war veteran residing in Detroit’s Eighth ward in 1894.

James probably died before 1901, possibly in Michigan. It is reported that one James Culhan, who served in Unassigned, Third Michigan infantry during the war, was buried in Elmwood cemetery, Detroit.

In any case, his widow was living in Michigan in 1901 when she applied for and received a pension (no. 513,551).

Nicholas Contor

Nicholas Contor, also known as “Canton”, “Courter” or “Konter”, was born 1836 in Prussia.

Nicholas immigrated to the United States, and eventually settled in Michigan. He was probably working as a farmer and living in Grand Rapids’ First Ward just before the war broke out.

He stood 6’0” with hazel eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion, and was 28 years old when he enlisted in Company C on January 5, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered the following day. (Company C was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles”, a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.)

On paper Nicholas joined the Regiment on February 18 at Camp Bullock, Virginia, and was transferred to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. In fact, it appears that he never left te state of Michigan. He was listed as absent sick in November, and was reported as having died on October 23, 1864, of disease at Detroit, and was buried in Elmwood cemetery: section K, no. 29.

No pension seems to be available.