GUSTAV ADOLPH SCHMAGER,
son of JORIN SCHMAGER and his wife ELIZABETH, was born in Berlin, Germany,
on 10 September 1822. In that city, in St. Georgin Church on 10 October
1853, he married CAROLINE WILHELMINE FRIEDERIKE BLEISE, daughter of MARTIN
BLEISE and DOROTHEE SOPHIE BEYER. CAROLINE (later MINA or MINNA) had been
christened in the same church on the day after Christmas in 1830. They
probably left Germany within a few weeks of their marriage to live in New
Using the name ADOLPH, he was first listed in city directories in 1857-58 as a piano maker living at 20 Chrystie Street. The family lived at times on Orchard, 5th and Houston Streets.
On 4 October 1861 in New York City, ADOLPH joined the Morgan Rifles, which became part of the 58th Regiment under Colonel Wladimir Kryzanowski in the Civil War. He enrolled as a private for three years. He was promoted to sergeant in the regiment's E Company on 1 April 1862, to first sergeant on 1 September 1862 and, nine days later was made a second lieutenant of K Company. On 2 May 1863 he became a first lieutenant in F Company, the rank he held in the regiment's engagements at Gettysburg from the 1st to the 4th of July of that year. When his company commander died of wounds received at Gettysburg, ADOLPH was promoted to captain of F Company on 21 October 1863. The 58th Regiment fought in 17 engagements with Confederate troops, with casualties as shown below. ADOLPH was mustered out in Nashville, Tennessee, on I October 1865, just three days short of four years service.
In 1875, ADOLPH signed, as a witness, the citizenship papers of his son-in-law J.G. WILLIAM PILGRIM. He was shown in later city directories as a cabinetmaker and carpenter, with his home at 165 Allen Street from about 1869 until his death. In August of 1882 he applied for an invalid (disabled) pension for disabilities resulting from his army service. He stated that in May of 1863 near Chancellorsville, Virginia, "after being totally exhausted from the war being and feeling not very well" he was ordered to Burke's Station Field Hospital "suffering from malaria which turned into Typhoid Fever." He also claimed to have contracted chronic rheumatism at this time, affecting "to this very day" his right shoulder, arm and hand. He was sent on sick furlough to New York to be treated by his personal physician. An examining surgeon in 1883 concluded that ADOLPH was not "disabled for earning subsistence by manual labor," and the application was rejected.
After ADOLPH's death, MINA applied in 1891 for a widow's pension. She declared that she had no real estate, bonds or bank accounts providing income, and was compelled to "wash and scrub" as a tenement housekeeper for support. Her application was approved, and commencing on 19 February 1892, she received $8 monthly until her death the next year.
ADOLPH died on 6 October 1884, and was buried in a Civil War section of All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens, N.Y. MINA was living in 1890 at 81 East 4th Street with her sons. She died 25 August 1893 at the home of her daughter CLARA at 124 East 79th Street in Manhattan.
The 1865-66 city directory shows ADOLPH living at 97 Orchard Street, and his family may have been original occupants of that 6-story tenement built in 1863. In 1984 the building became the home of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum whose purpose is to preserve it and chronicle the urban immigrant experience. The museum is also trying to record the names of all who lived at 97 Orchard in the 72 years it was inhabited.
The children of ADOLPH and MINA were CLARA ANNA (below), Theodore (died 1891) who was an agent in 1887 and bartender in 1888, and Fred, a teacher in 1890.
Information by Theodore S. Overbagh