An article in the August 12, 1863 edition of the Buffalo Daily Courier lists names selected for conscription in the federal army during the Civil War.1 Included was the town of Alden, near Buffalo in Erie County, New York. A Jacob Yuncker is listed among the 57 names selected in the previous day’s draft.
Since he was living in Alden, this is very likely my second great-grandfather, Jacob P. Yuncker. In the 1855 New York state census, 17 year old Jacob is listed as living in Alden with his parents Hubert and Barbara Yuncker.2 A few years later, several tax assessment rolls3 from the Internal Revenue Service show Jacob P. Yuncker paid taxes on boots and shoes, which were probably part of his shoe making business. These rolls span from September 1862 to June 1863 and they show his business was at Alden, New York. Jacob was a shoemaker like his father Hubert.
Interestingly, there are other names in the area very similar to Jacob Yuncker. There was a Jacob Yunker, spelled without the letter ‘c’. He was on the tax roll for May 1865 in Sheldon, Wyoming County, New York, but his business was insurance. There was also a Jacob Younkes living in Buffalo.4 5 6 He volunteered for the 187th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company A and served from October 10, 1864 to July 1, 1865. He participated in the final battles of the Civil War. However the census shows he was married and his wife was living in Buffalo while he was away.
Did Jacob actually serve in the Civil War? I could not find him in any roster or muster rolls, either for the regular army, or for any volunteer regiments. The Buffalo Daily Courier continued to report on the progress of the draft and often listed those who were later exempted, those who had someone take their place, or those who had paid $300 to avoid the draft. Jacob is not listed among those people. The conscription act was highly controversial and there were riots around the country and in even Buffalo.
Back on September 6, 1859, Jacob married his first wife Rosalia “Rose” Werner at Saint John the Baptist Catholic church in Alden.7 They appear in the 1860 federal census in Alden, as having been married within the past year.8 When he was selected for the draft in August 1863, he would have been married four years. Tragically less than a year later, his young wife died at age 23 on May 12, 1864.9 She died in Alden and is buried at Saint John the Baptist church.10 It is possible that Rose was ill during that period and Jacob may have been granted an exemption from the draft to care for her.
Jacob’s 1905 obituary states, “…Deceased was born in Alsace, France, December 23d, 1837, and came to this country with his parents in 1846, locating in Erie county, New York. In 1862 he went west to the gold fields in the Rocky Mountains and [on his] return located in Westphalia, Clinton county in 1866, where he was married to Miss [Margaret] Pohl and resided there for 18 years, coming to Nottawa [Township, Isabella County] in 1882….”11
Such a detailed account of his life conspicuously neglects to mention he served during the Civil War. It also states he left Alden in 1862. As with many family stories, this is not entirely true. The tax rolls clearly show he was in Alden in 1863. And since his wife died there in 1864, it is doubtful he would have left Alden before 1864.
Still, he could have left to go west after June 1863 with the intent of finding a suitable homestead and then sending for his wife Rosa to join him. He may have remained on the draft roll in August 1863, even when he had already left the area.
Jacob’s younger brother George Yuncker did serve in the Civil War. He volunteered first with the Twenty-first New York Infantry, Company C. He entered March 10, 1862 at Buffalo and mustered out on May 18, 1863 at Buffalo. He later re-enlisted in the Fourth Heavy Artillery, Company L. He mustered in January 5, 1864 at the Ninth District, New York City and mustered out September 26, 1865 at Washington, DC.
In summary, I conclude Jacob Yuncker did not serve in the Civil War, even though he was drafted in August 1863. It is pure speculation, but he may have been granted an exemption to care for his wife, or he may have left the area just prior to being selected, either as a coincidence or to avoid the controversial draft altogether. It seems most likely he would stay with his wife. When she died in May 1864, perhaps then he left Alden to make his way to the Rocky Mountains. He does not appear in the 1865 New York state census.
His journey west was probably brief. He must have arrived at the relatively new German Catholic settlement at Westphalia, Clinton County, Michigan towards the middle or end of 1865, where he met and married his second wife, Anna Margaret “Maggie” Pohl in January 1866.12
I must continue my research to trace Jacob P. Yuncker from Alden, New York in 1863 or 1864, perhaps to the Rocky Mountain gold fields, and then to Westphalia, Michigan by 1865.Footnotes
- “The Draft,” article, Buffalo Daily Courier, 12 August 1863, 19th District, Alden, New York; New York State Military Museum (http://dmna.ny.gov/ : downloaded 17 February 2015), Erie County, New York Civil War Newspapers. Jacob Yuncker is one of 57 names selected for conscription.
- 1855 New York State Census, Alden, Erie, New York, population, Town of Alden, Page 22, FHL #825680, Image 00016, Digital Folder Number 005207118, Household 186, Hubert Yuncker (indexed as Hurbert Janker); digital image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K63R-7M8 : downloaded 21 March 2013); Secretary of State.
- Ancestry.com, “U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918,” database, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (http://Ancestry.com: downloaded 21 March 2010), Roll 202, Division 8, District 30, Alden, New York, Jacob P. Yuncker; citing National Archives (NARA) microfilm series M603.
- New York State Adjutant General Office, Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year <year>: Registers of the <unit numbers>, 43 volumes (between 1893 and 1905), Page 907; portable document format, New York State Military Museum, Unit History Project (http://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/rosters/rosters.htm : downloaded 17 February 2015; Younkes, Jacob, also listed as Yunkes.
- William Irvine, Adjutant-General, A Record of the Commissioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates, of the Regiments Which Were Organized in the State of New York and Called Into the Service of the United States to Assist in Suppressing the Rebellion, Volume VI, 174th Regiment – 71st Regiment State Militia (Albany, New York: Weed, Parsons, and Company, 1866), Pages 224-225; digital images, Ancestry.com, Fold3 History and Genealogy Archives (http://www.footnotelibrary.com/ : downloaded 17 February 2015; Muster Roll, Captain Frederick Trankle, Company A, 187th Regiment, New York State Volunteers, Line 80, Yunkes, Jacob.
- Richard C. Brown, Erie County and the Civil War: Adventures in Western New York History, Volume XVIII (Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, 1973), 7; portable document format, The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Museum Education (http://bechsed.nylearns.org/ : downloaded 17 February 2015; 187th New York Volunteer Infantry principally of German ethnicity.
- St. John the Baptist (Alden, New York), Church Records, Marriages, 1859, Jacobus Junker et Rosalia Werner; FHL microfilm 1292868, Item 1.
- 1860 Census: Town of Alden, Erie County, New York (Roll 750), p. 636.
- St. John the Baptist (Alden, New York), Church Records, Obituaries, 1864, Rosa Junker uxor Jakob Juncker; FHL microfilm 1292868, Item 1.
- St. John the Baptist (Alden, New York), Church Records, Interments, 1864, Page 15, Rosa Junker; FHL microfilm 1292868, Item 6.
- “Michigan Digital Newspaper Portal,” database, Central Michigan University Library, CMU Online Digital Object Repository (http://condor.cmich.edu/: downloaded 6 March 2015), Obituary of Jacob P. Yuncker, Isabella County Enterprise, March 31, 1905, Volume 41, Number 16, Page 1, Column 3.
- County Clerk, Clinton County, Michigan Marriages 1867-1887, Vol C, p. 18, #264.