In his Declaration of
Intent for citizenship in 1855, Adam Muenzenberger
provides the information that he was born in Hesse-Darmstadt in 1830, and
entered the U.S. by way of New York in July 1847. His father Ernst
Muenzenberger, mother Christina (Muehl), and Adam and his eight younger
siblings are shown as living in the Town of Greenfield a few miles southwest
of the City of Milwaukee on the 1847 Census. According to family
oral history Christina, who does not appear on the 1850 Census, died shortly
after their arrival.
Adam married Barbara Wuest, whose family lived nearby, in 1854. In 1857 Adam’s father moved to western Wisconsin. Adam was given only two acres of the 40-acre farm, with his younger brother Ernst receiving the rest. In 1858 he purchased a two-acre plot across the Janesville Plank Road from Barbara’s widowed mother, where he pursued his cobbler’s craft.
Of the more than two hundred men who represented Greenfield in the Civil War, relatively few enlisted as Muenzenberger and his wife’s brother Adam Wuest did. Most were draftees who could not afford to hire a substitute, or substitutes hired by those who could. The Republican Party was not popular among the Germans and Irish who comprised the vast majority of the residents: Abraham Lincoln failed to carry the county in either 1860 or 1864. Several of Muenzenberger’s acquaintances enlisted in the 26th when he did. They were all of limited means and land-poor. Promises of pay and adventure, not only patriotism, motivated them.
Barbara Muenzenberger was an impoverished widow with two children at the time of Adam’s death in 1863. Her fortunes seemed to turn upward in 1869 when she remarried, to Joseph Cordes, who operated a flourishing grocery business. It failed before his death in 1876, however. She survived Adam by more than a half-century, and filed a final application for a widow’s pension in 1912. Her great-grandson William Lamers, who was born in 1900, stated that he was fourteen years old at the time of her death.
His letters to his wife Barbara. 1862, to April, 1863 , to November, 1863. Died in a Confederate prison.
(Photo courtesy of Dr. William Lamers. )
(The above information was provided and compiled by Dr. Lamers’ grandson Steve Mohr and the Greenfield Historical Society)