Frederick William Voedisch was a manufacturer, American Civil War soldier and artist. He was born in Saxony, Germany on January 1, 1832 and trained as a baker. Frederick emigrated to New York in 1854 and worked there as a baker and sawmill manager before moving to Wisconsin in 1856. In 1862, Frederick enlisted as a private in the 20th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment for the Union Army at age 29 and was quickly promoted to a noncommissioned officer, third sergeant (moving from Company A to Company E). However, curiously, after the conclusion of hostilities in 1865, he was honorably discharged as a private. The Military History of Wisconsin details the hard times Frederick and his company endured. Following the war, he married Catherine Weber (née Runkel) in 1865 in Watertown, WI, and worked as a lumber manufacturing manager. In 1883, Frederick received the title to 160 acres of land in Fergus Falls, MN. In 1885, he moved his family farther west to North Dakota. Frederick applied for his Civil War pension in 1886 and died in the Dakotas in 1891 at age 59. He was survived by his German-immigrant wife Catherine and their children Dela and Alfred.
Frederick W. Voedisch is my great-great-great-grandfather. Before Heidi and I went to Europe last year, I created an Ancestry.com account and input a binder of genealogical data to create an online family tree. I did this primarily to share information with my cousins in Italy about their American relatives. You can imagine my surprise when I was contacted by a Civil War reenactor who owns Frederick’s Civil War rifle. The Springfield musket he owns was identified because the initials FWV are artfully engraved into the stock and there was only one Wisconsin soldier with those initials on the Civil War roster. After the war, Frederick probably returned home with his musket and had the barrel reamed slightly larger to turn it into a 20-gauge shotgun, making it a handy item on a farm. But by the time he moved west, cartridge guns had become common, and so he left his rather obsolete musket in Wisconsin. Now, in 2013, Frederick’s musket remains in Wisconsin in its original condition (other than the slight reaming of the inside of the barrel). The lock works and it even includes its ramrod. I was amazed to learn so much about an object once carried by my 3rd-great-grandfather. Frederick’s daughter Dela is my great-great-grandmother.