Elizabeth

In memory of WWII US Army Captain Henry D. Wirsig

George Keller, Henry Wirsig, and Charles Brodhead

George Keller, Henry Wirsig, and Charles Brodhead

This photo on the right supposedly stood on my grandmother’s dresser many years ago, and I’d seen it off and on through the years, when leafing through a family album, always wondering who the gentleman in the middle was. Well, a week ago, I was going through an old bundle of letters, containing correspondence between my grandmother and grandfather, Fannie and Frank Brodhead, and a US Army Captain named Henry Wirsig. As I leafed through the letters, out fell a smaller version of this photo, and I immediately understood that this fellow in the middle was Henry.

The letters and postcards from Henry were sweet and thoughtful, almost always ending in “Love, Henry” or “Love to All, Henry”, and the one letter I found from my grandparents to him was signed “Love, Ma and Pa Brodhead”.

I later learned that Henry was born in 1914, so he was two years younger than my Dad’s brother Woody and seven years younger than my Dad (Charles). My Dad enlisted in spring 1942, and I believe this photo must have been taken around July 1942 as that was his last time home until November 1944.

Henry’s letters always inquired about Woody, my Dad, and ‘grandma’ (a reference to my grandfather’s mother Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead, by then in her eighties), so Henry must have been a very close family friend. Where did they meet? Well, through subsequent research, I think it may have been through the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth (NJ), as Henry and my Dad’s family were all members there.

'Ma and Pa Brodhead'

‘Ma and Pa Brodhead’

As I read along, the letters all saved in chronological order, I was shocked to come upon a March 1945 letter from Henry’s mother to my grandmother, revealing gut-wrenching news—confirmation that Henry had been killed in action on December 17, 1944, at the onset of the Battle of the Bulge, a major German offensive campaign that began on 16 December 1944 and lasted until 25 January 1945, and resulted in a staggering 89,500 American casualties. Suddenly this photo took on extremely deep and personal meaning. I can’t begin to imagine how this crushing news must have devastated everyone who knew and loved Henry.

The website Battle of the Bulge Memories contains the recollections of a veteran who participated in that day’s events, and he describes the events leading up to Henry’s death. To read this riveting account, which is tough to read at times, click here.

Elizabeth Daily Journal, Saturday Evening, March 17, 1945

Elizabeth Daily Journal, Saturday Evening, March 17, 1945

The Elizabeth Daily Journal published an obituary notice on March 17, 1945; it provided me with more details on Henry’s background. To paraphrase the obituary notice:

Captain Henry D. Wirsig, of Union, NJ (formerly of Elizabeth, NJ) died in Bastogne, Luxembourg, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. He was a member of the Ninth Armored Division. Prior to his death, he had been serving as acting mayor of Luxembourg. He was 31 years old.

Capt. Wirsig was born and raised in Syracuse, NY, and graduated from the University of Syracuse. He enlisted in 1942, leaving behind a chemical engineering position with Standard Oil Development Company. He had joined the company as a student intern in 1936.

He was a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps and began active duty as a lieutenant. At Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, in October 1942, he was promoted to Captain. He also trained in the California desert, Camp Cook (CA), Fort Knox (KY) and Camp Polk (LA). [My grandparents received a number of postcards from these places.]

Captain Wirsig was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Elizabeth, NJ. He married Mabel Dorothy Painter of Elizabeth, NJ, on April 5, 1940, and had two children, Kenneth and Jean. He was the oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Carl F. Wirsig, and brother of Stanley S. Wirsig and Paul O. Wirsig.

**********************************************

I was very pleased to discover that Henry’s resting place has been memorialized on the Find a Grave site. He was buried at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Liège, Belgium. I submitted a ‘photo’ and ‘biography’ to Find a Grave, and am happy to see that they have since been included in his memorial page (to view, click here).

Below is Henry’s last postcard to my grandparents.  My grandmother’s last letter to him, affectionately signed ‘Love, Ma and Pa Brodhead’ was written on January 9, 1945. She had no idea he was already gone.

It’s heart-breaking to think of all that Henry and his family lost on that tragic December day nearly 70 years ago.

Henry made the ultimate sacrifice in the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny. I thank him and his family for bearing this awful burden so that others could live in freedom.

Henry's last mailing, a postcard, to my grandparents; such a beautiful and peaceful scene.

Henry’s last mailing, a postcard, to my grandparents; Franciscan Convent in Marienthal, Luxembourg—such a beautiful and peaceful scene.

Written 16 days before Henry's death

Written 16 days before Henry’s death

Links:
American Battle Monuments Commission

PBS American Experience – Interviews with Bulge Veterans

Fields of Honor database

“Infantry & Tanks near Bastogne”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – Battle of the Bulge – Members of the 44th Armored Infantry, supported by tanks of the 6th Armored Division, move in to attack German troops surrounding Bastogne, Belgium (31 Dec 1944)

Categories: Battle of the Bulge, Brodhead, Elizabeth, Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial, New Jersey, Wirsig, WWII | 7 Comments

Striking gold: Gleanings from the Samuel Barron Jaques family Bible

p. 253 The Book of Family Crests, London: Henry Washbourne & Co., 1951

p. 253 The Book of Family Crests, London: Henry Washbourne & Co., 1851

A year plus ago, I did a post on Samuel Barron Jaques (1730-1798/9), a fourth great-grandfather, who lived on the Jaques (pronounced “Jay-quiss”) family farm in Locust Grove, which was just north of Woodbridge, New Jersey, as I recall. There were numerous subsequent posts about his son Isaac (1791-1880), my third great-grandfather, a Manhattan tailor who removed to Elizabeth, NJ) and the children of Isaac I’d managed to discover: Jane, John, Isaac, Walter, Christopher, and Charles. All of them came as a surprise to me since we’d always believed my second great-grandmother Wealthy Jaques Angus (b. 1815) was the only child of Isaac and wife Wealthy Ann Cushman of Hartford, CT, a circumstance seemingly corroborated by the voluminous Jaques Family Genealogy (ed. by Roger Jaques and Patricia Jaques for the Jaques Family Association, published 1995): on page 457 the book describes Wealthy Ann Jaques as being the …only child of Isaac and Wealthy A. (Cushman) Jaques….

Well, as Sod’s law would have it, I’ve just now come across a thin, browned Newark News clipping from 13 March 1915 (according to the handwriting en verso) that was stuffed in an old envelope with a bunch of other papers. I sure wish I’d come upon this clipping a long time ago, but better late than never, as the saying goes. But, those of us researching our family trees would probably all agree that we’ll take gold whenever we can get it, and gold for me was learning names and dates contained in the Samuel Barron Jaques family Bible. It doesn’t get much better than this.

The clipping, which must have been taken from a newspaper column that focused on family history, gives the names and birth dates of all of Samuel Barron and Mary (Coddington) Jaques’s children, as well as all the names and birth dates for Isaac and Wealthy (Cushman) Jaques’s children.

I discovered that—after all my research—I’d still missed two of their children: Eleazer Jaques (b. 1820) and Samuel Barron Jaques (b. 1824). But, nonetheless, the fact that I had managed to nail the others into place prior to this with varying degrees of biographical detail brought some satisfaction. Significantly, the Family Bible provides middle names, and those can be very valuable when researching an individual. Of course, they can also lead to new questions such as why this or that name? For example, I learned that dentist son Walter’s full name was Walter Madison Smith Jaques, and Christopher P. Jaques was Christopher Prince Jaques. The Prince middle name was familiar to me. Walter and Christopher’s sister Wealthy Jaques Angus (my ssecond great-grandmother) had named her youngest son Walter Prince Angus (b. 1861). I believe Christopher (b. 1831) and Walter (b. 1826) died while still in their 20’s/30’s, though I have yet to find exact death dates for them. But Wealthy’s decision to name her youngest Walter Prince may have been to honor her late brothers. In addition, a long while ago, I discovered that one of the siblings’ brothers, John Barron Jaques (b. 1822), named his youngest child (b. 1853) Walter M. S. Jaques, and now I think I can guess what those middle initials stand for!

The clipping starts off mentioning the initials of F. W. G. and J. A. K. I have no idea who F. W. G. was, but feel quite certain that the latter was James Angus Knowles, son of Mary Martha Angus Knowles (b. 1846, a daughter of the aforementioned Wealthy Jaques Angus and James Angus) and Austin Fellows Knowles. James Angus Knowles was a great-grandson of Isaac Jaques, and evidence I’ve seen (in the form of genealogical details written on his letterhead) suggests he had a strong interest in the Angus/Jaques family history. I assume that the Samuel Barron Jaques family Bible may have been passed down along his Knowles family line, or perhaps it is now with the descendants of one of James’s siblings.

Dr. Moses Jaques bio from p. 126, History of Union and Middlesex Counties, New Jersey with Biographical Sketches of many of their Prominent Men (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1882)

Dr. Moses Jaques bio from p. 126, History of Union and Middlesex Counties, New Jersey with Biographical Sketches of many of their Prominent Men (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1882)

Also of interest are the final details mentioned of the Jaques’s family coat of arms, which was then apparently likely in the possession of the descendants of Dr. Moses Jaques (1770-1858), a nephew of Samuel Barron Jaques: The Jaques family is of French descent, the name originally spelled Jacques; of Huguenot origin, fled to England during the fifteenth century. The arms in shield is a fer-de-neorelin (a mill iron), with five stars. Crest: A horse’s head and neck stuck with a tilting spear. Motto: Detur forti palma (the reward given to the brave).

So, to close, below are my updated family tree for these three generations of the Samuel Barron Jaques family and a photo copy of the clipping.

As always, comments, corrections, and additions are most welcome!

1-Samuel Barron Jaques b. 1730, Woodbridge, Middlesex Co., NJ, d. 26 Jul 
  1798/9, Gravel Hill, near Rahway, called Milton, NJ, bur. Locust Grove 
  Cemetery, Woodbridge, Middlesex Co., NJ
 +Mary Coddington, bur. Woodbridge, Middlesex, NJ
|-----2-Hannah Jaques b. 17 Aug 1782, d. 17 Aug 1783
|-----2-John Jaques b. 15 Oct 1783, d. Bef Sep 1798
|-----2-David Jaques b. 9 Oct 1784
|-----2-Ziporah Jaques b. 31 Mar 1787
|-----2-Nansey Jaques b. 25 Apr 1789
|-----2-Isaac Jaques b. 9 Aug 1791, Woodbridge Neck, NJ, d. 24 Aug 1880, 
|       Elizabethtown, NJ, bur. 27 Aug 1880, Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ
|      +Wealthy Ann Cushman b. 11 Nov 1793, Hartford, CT, d. 11 Apr 1856, 
|       Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ, bur. 13 Apr 1856, Evergreen Cemetery, 
|       Hillside, NJ
|     |-----3-Jane F. Jaques b. 9 Jan 1814, New York, d. 1 Aug 1843, Brooklyn, 
|     |       Kings Co., New York, bur. 3 Aug 1843
|     |-----3-Wealthy Ann Jaques b. 15 Dec 1815, New York City, New York. NY, 
|     |       d. 7 Mar 1892, At Home, 25 Reid Street, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, 
|     |       bur. First Presbyterian Church yard of Elizabeth, NJ
|     |-----3-Isaac Jaques b. 15 Nov 1817, d. Prob bef 24 Aug 1880
|     |-----3-Eleazer Jaques b. 7 Mar 1820
|     |-----3-John Barron Jaques b. 12 Sep 1822, New York or New Jersey, USA, 
|     |       d. 19 Dec 1895, St. Michael's Hospital, Newark, Essex Co., NJ, 
|     |       bur. Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, Union, NJ
|     |-----3-Samuel Barron Jaques b. 12 Oct 1824, d. poss 27 May 1858
|     |-----3-Walter Madison Smith Jaques b. 28 Jul 1826, New York City, New 
|     |       York USA, d. Bef 22 Oct 1863
|     |-----3-Christopher Prince Jaques b. 6 Jan 1831, New York City, New York 
|     |       USA, d. Bef 24 Aug 1880
|     |-----3-Dr. Charles Berry Jaques b. 14 Feb 1834, New York City, New York 
|     |       USA, d. 2 Nov 1866, Brooklyn, Kings Co., NY, bur. 5 Nov 1866, Old 
|     |       Somerville Cemetery, Somerville, Somerset Co., NJ, USA
|      +Rebecca A. Robinson b. 1804, CT, d. 29 Dec 1886, bur. Evergreen 
|       Cemetery, Hillside, Union Co., NJ
|-----2-Mary Jaques b. 23 Sep 1793
|-----2-Jane F. Jaques b. 26 Jan 1796, d. 27 Aug 1880, bur. St. Paul's Church 
|       Cemetery, Mt. Vernon, Westchester Co., NY
|      +John B. Quinn d. 20 May 1860, bur. St. Paul's Church Cemetery, Mt. 
|       Vernon, Westchester Co., NY
|-----2-John Morris Jaques b. 21 Sep 1798
Newark News clipping, supposedly from 13 March 1915

Newark News clipping, supposedly from 13 March 1915

Categories: Angus, Barron, Coddington, Cushman, Elizabeth, Family Bible, Jaques, Knowles, Locust Grove Middx Co, New Jersey, Woodbridge | Leave a comment

Dr. Charles B. Jaques, assistant surgeon during the Civil War for 7th Regiment New Jersey (Post I)

Surgeon, Harpers Weekly, July 12, 1862 (Public domain due to expired copyright in the US)

Winslow Homer illustration of surgeons at work on the battlefield, Harper’s Weekly, July 12, 1862

Today, I’d like to highlight one of our family tree’s true heroes Dr. Charles B. Jaques, who was commissioned an officer in New Jersey’s Seventh Regiment on July 19, 1862. He was mustered in on July 31, 1862, and served as an assistant surgeon in Company F and Company S (NB: Staff officers were generally listed under Company S, per Wikipedia). As an assistant surgeon, his rank would have been the equivalent of captain.

7th New Jersey Infantry Monument, Gettysburg Battlefield. Final Report of the Gettysburg Battle-Field Commission of New Jersey (Trenton, NJ: John L. Murphy Publishing Company, 1891), opp. p. 104. (Public domain due to expired copyright in the US)

7th New Jersey Infantry Monument, Gettysburg Battlefield. Final Report of the Gettysburg Battle-Field Commission of New Jersey (Trenton, NJ: John L. Murphy Publishing Company, 1891), opp. p. 104. (Public domain due to expired copyright in the US)

During his 21-month term of service, Charles’s regiment took part in the battles at Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, among many others. For full regiment information, visit the National Park Service website.

Born 14 February 1834 in New York City to prominent Manhattan tailor Isaac Jaques and his wife Wealthy Ann Cushman, Charles was the youngest of  at least seven children. His siblings included Jane, Wealthy, Isaac, John, Walter, and Christopher. My second great grandmother, Wealthy Ann Jaques, was one of Charles’s two older sisters. She was nearly two decades his senior  and married James Winans Angus when Charles would have been just about five years old. Wealthy’s oldest son Isaac was born when Charles was just six.

By the time of the 1850 census, the family was living in Elizabeth, NJ, where Isaac Jaques had invested in real estate. Charles was 16 and working as a clerk.

At age 22, Charles graduated from the New York College of Physicians on March 13, 1856, according to a small announcement that appeared in the Newark Daily Advertiser the next day: The following Jerseymen graduated from the New York College of Physicians last evening: — LC Bowlby, JA Freeman, CB Jaques, CFJ Lehlback, JC Thompson.

Roughly six years later, at 28 years of age, Charles married Katherine Louise De Forrest, daughter of John L. De Forrest, on 26 March 1862, in Somerset, New Jersey.

Four months later, Charles had to bid goodbye to his wife and family and join his regiment. If you would like to view a carte de visite of Charles, one is currently on display on the Heritage Auction website. Copyright restrictions prohibit me from showing the photo here, but you can view it yourself. Just click on this link—he is in LOT #49487, third from the left.

Harpers Weekly, July 12, 1862

Harper’s Weekly, July 12, 1862 (Credit: http://www.sonofthesouth.net)

In its July 12, 1862, issue, published one week before Charles was commissioned, Harper’s Weekly carried the article and illustration (by Winslow Homer) included in this post about the life of the Civil War surgeon.

Given Harper’s Weekly was the most widely read publication of its kind during the Civil War, Charles himself may well have perused this issue.

How proud the entire family must have been of Charles and the life-saving role he was about to play in service to his fellow soldiers. But by then, the realities of the battlegrounds were well known, and their pride must certainly have been mixed with deep concern for Charles’s safety.

From p. 10 of the Register of the Commissioned Officers and Privates of the New Jersey Volunteers in the Service of the United States (image inset), we know that Charles served with Dr. Luther Foster Halsey. Halsey’s memorial appears on the Find a Grave website.

Charles’s name appears twice in the 1863 publication Report of Major-General John Pope. Letter from the secretary of war, in answer to resolution of the House of 18th ultimo, transmitting copy of report of Major General John Pope (see pages included below). He is described as missing (a condition that obviously proved to be temporary), last seen on the battlefield near Centreville, Virginia, tending to the wounded on August 29, 1862. Colonel Louis R. Francine, who signed one of these reports, was mortally wounded at Gettysburg the following summer.

Charles is mentioned in the diary of 7th Regiment NJ Private Heyward Emell (The Civil War Journal of Private Heyward Emmell, Ambulance and Infantry Corps by Jim Malcolm, pub. 2011 – see Chapter 5 “Second Bull Run”, p. 30): Camp near Ft. Lyon near Alexandria Va., September 4th [1862]. We have been in 3 battles since I last wrote, but I am glad to be able to say that Co. K had only one killed and two wounded in all of them. And we had one die of sickness on the march his name was Wm. Long & John Lyon was wounded at Bull Run & soon died. Charlie Johnson got wounded Bristow Station & so did Archer. Wm. Long was burried at Fairfax Court House. John Lyon was not dead when we left or we would have buried him. Dr. Jaques stayed with our wounded for several days & was paroled on account of his being a doctor & has just returned & tells that Lyon did not live long after the battle. I suppose this battle will be called Bull Run No. 2. …

Harper's Weekly

Harper’s Weekly, April 4, 1863, illustration by A. B. Waud – Wedding of Captain Hart and Miss Lammond

Another interesting thing we know about Charles is that he is listed as having been a witness at the March 12, 1863, wedding ceremony of Captain Daniel Hart and Miss Ellen (“Nellie”) Lammond at the 7th Regiment’s military encampment, then located in the vicinity of Falmouth, Virginia. Charles’s signature appears on the Harts’ wedding certificate, a copy of which is presently stored in the National Archives.

The October 12, 2006, issue of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia (pp. 3-5) has an interesting article about the event, and describes how Miss Lammond and her entire wedding party traveled down from Phillipsburg, NJ, to the encampment, since Captain Hart was unable to get leave to go home for the ceremony. To view a PDF of the newsletter, click here.

The wedding was highlighted by Harper’s Weekly in its April 4, 1863, issue. This blessed event must have been a rare moment of “normalcy” experienced by many of these men during the course of their service.

Civil War surgeon's kit, Wikimedia Commons image by 'quadell'

Civil War surgeon’s kit, Wikimedia Commons image by ‘quadell’

I can’t begin to imagine the day to day of what Charles and his fellow surgeons and soldiers went through, and I won’t make any attempt to describe it here. Instead, I will provide links to just a few of the resources available where you can learn more about the realities of a soldier’s life during the Civil War:
The Truth About Civil War Surgery by Alfred J. Bollet, published June 12, 2006
“Maimed Men: The Toll of the American Civil War” on the US National Library of Medicine website
“Medicine in the Civil War” on AmericanCivilWar.com
Winslow Homer Civil War illustrations
Civil War Rx – The Source Guide to Civil War Medicine
Civil War Surgeons Memorial website

Some old calling cards

Some old calling card envelopes addressed to Charles Jaques. The card from Mr. J. Besancomb came in the second envelope. The upper envelope was empty when I came across it.

Charles was mustered out on October 7, 1864, and returned home to his family. I wish I could tell you that he went on to live a very long and happy life–for he certainly deserved one. Unfortunately, for reasons I have yet to discover, he died on May 2, 1866, at home in Brooklyn, NY, where he and his wife must have settled after he got home. He’d been home just about 18 months and was only some 32 years of age.

Charles was buried in the Old Somerville Cemetery in Somerville, NJ. The Find a Grave site has images of the memorial that marks his resting place.

I am immensely grateful to Charles for his service. I hope by publishing this post here, other family members will learn of his life’s work and feel as proud as I do to have him in our family tree.

If anyone reading this has additional information to share about Charles or a photographic image of him, such as the CDV mentioned above, please get in touch.

***********************

Charles’s Family

Charles and Katherine had one son Charles B. Jaques Jr. who was born on March 24, 1864. So obviously, Charles Sr. made it home on furlough some nine months prior to that. Charles Jr. would probably not have had any recollection of his father as he was just a toddler when Charles Sr. died. When Charles Jr. was eight, Katherine married a second time–to Rufus R. Sewall (January 2, 1872).

Sadly, on May 10, 1886, Charles Jr. died at just 22 years of age, in Enterprise, Florida, which is on the other side of Lake Monroe from Sanford, Florida. What he was doing there, I do not know. This was two years before an enormous yellow fever epidemic swept through the state, killing many. Perhaps a disease like that took him or some sort of accident (the 1880s was a time in Florida when there was major railroad construction going on, tourism was getting underway, and logging was big business). For whatever reason, it took six months before the family was able to have a funeral and bury him. He was interred at Old Somerville Cemetery next to his father on November 12, 1886.

According to http://www.sewellgenealogy.com/p473.htm#i1234, Rufus Sewall died on April 14, 1889. Katherine married a third time, to Charles E. Jenkins on June 2, 1891. She died on May 11, 1931, and was also interred at Old Somerville Cemetery.

***********************

p. 10, Register of the Commissioned Officers and Privates of the New Jersey Volunteers in the Service of the United States (pub. 1863)

p. 10, Register of the Commissioned Officers and Privates of the New Jersey Volunteers in the Service of the United States (pub. 1863)

Report of Major-General John Pope. Letter from the secretary of War, pub. 1863; pp 178-179

CLICK TO ENLARGE – Report of Major-General John Pope. Letter from the secretary of War, pub. 1863; pp 178-179 (In public domain in US due to expired copyright)

Report of Major-General John Pope. Letter from the secretary of War, pub. 1863; pp 190-191

CLICK TO ENLARGE – Report of Major-General John Pope. Letter from the secretary of War, pub. 1863; pp 190-191(In public domain in US  due to expired copyright)

Harpers Weekly, April 4, 1863, illustration

Harper’s Weekly, April 4, 1863 (Credit: http://www.sonofthesouth.net)

Troy Daily Times, Tues. March 24, 1863 (Credit: www.fultonhistory.com)

Troy Daily Times, Tues. March 24, 1863 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

Troy Daily Times, Tues. March 24, 1863 (Credit: www.fultonhistory.com)

Troy Daily Times, Tues. March 24, 1863 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

Death Notices, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Saturday, November 3, 1866 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Death Notices, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Saturday, November 3, 1866 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

NY Herald, May 13, 1886 (www.fultonhistory.com)

NY Herald, May 13, 1886 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

NY Herald, November 11, 1886 (www.fultonhistory.com)

NY Herald, November 11, 1886 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

Categories: Angus, Brooklyn, Bull Run VA, Chancellorsville VA, Civil War, Cushman, De Forrest, Elizabeth, Enterprise Volusia Co, Fredericksburg VA, Gettysburg PA, Homer, Jaques, Old Somerville Cemetery NJ, Veteran's Day, Winslow | 2 Comments

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