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Morris Wetzler was said by earlier researchers to have been a native born Australian American Civil War veteran, born on March 15, 1842 in Australia. His place of birth on his Illinois Military Muster and Descriptive Rolls, however, is given as his being born in Saaz, Boehmen Koenigretch, Austria; Austria, though ‘may’ have been a transcription error for Australia. After migrating to the United States in 1856 his residence was listed as being in Rock Island, Illinois, and he enlisted in Chicago, Illinois as a Private on Sept. 9, 1861 into Company “K”, 37th Illinois Infantry Regiment. At a later date he was transferred from Company “K” into Company to “G” of the same regiment; being discharged, according to his pension index card, on January 6, 1864. That may be the date he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U. S. Colored Troops as he is listed as serving in Company “G”, 5th Corps de Afrique Infantry Regiment, which was redesignated on April 4, 1864 as the 77th U. S. Colored Infantry Regiment. The regiment was used as garrison troops for Fort St. Phillip and other areas around New Orleans, Louisiana. Wetzler resigned on April 13, 1864. The Illinois Muster and Descriptive Rolls, however, indicates Morris was born c.1843 in Germany and was single at his date of enlistment. Morris Wetzler did not show up in the Illinois 1860 U.S. Census records, but one intriguing possibility is Maurice Wetzler, age 17, born in ‘Austria’, living in New York City at the time.

On July 21, 1872 in St Louis, Missouri Morris married an a girl named Amelia/Amalie Engel, born February 4, 1853, and they were married for 28 years living in Trenton City, Grundy, Missouri and had four children; Josie born in 1880;  Edna born in 1885; Charles born in 1887 and Earnest born in 1889. U.S. Census records for 1900 reveal Morris was living at Trenton Ward 2, Grundy, Missouri and was 57 years of age. Members of his household included Amelia Wetzler age 47; Josie Wetzler age 20; Edna Wetzler age 15; Charles Wetzler age 13 and Earnest Wetzler age 11.  It also records his parents as being as born in Austria.; again that could be an error for Australia.

Morris Wetzler applied for a pension on September 29, 1886; application #586106, certificate #360144 and his widow filed for her pension on January 13, 1911 after Morris’s death.

Morris Wetzler died on September 23, 1907 at Chicago, Illinois, but Family Search lists his date of death as Sept. 28, 1907. The difference in date of death--Sept. 23 vs. Sept. 28 is also probably a transcription or typographical error. Morris Wetzler was buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Leavenworth County, Missouri in the United States.  After his death his widow applied for a widower’s pension on January 13, 1911; application #956033, certificate #729772, which was granted.

His wife Amelia died of meningitis on December 13, 1916 at Levenworth Hospital in Grundy County and his son Charles Wetzler, born in 1887, died of heart disease at 46 years of age at Trenton, also in Grundy County, on December 27, 1933.

The question remains, however; was Morris Wetzler born in Australia, or in Austria and was their a mistake on his military records or in the imagination of an early researcher? He is included here so the reader may draw their own conclusion.



Barry Crompton, ACWRTQ

Family Search.org


Historical Data Systems, civilwardata.com

Illinois Roster of Officers and Enlisted Men

John Heseltine, Researcher

Missouri Census Records, Grundy County, Missouri

Missouri State Archives

Morris Wetzler Pension Application

Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force of the U. S. Army, part VIII

Paul Frost, researcher

Pension Index of the Civil War to 1900

Randy Crain, Paducah, New York, Researcher


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