Confederate Drummer Boy
My great great grandfather was Frank Wecker he was born in Germany in about 1847 or 1848. He and his family immigrated via New York on June 10, 1850. They located themselves in Murray Co., Georgia and were living there on August 31, 1850. But his father George decided to move the family to Louisville, Kentucky where there was a large German population. However, after the Bloody Monday rioting of August 6, 1855 against Catholics, Germans and Irish in Louisville, George Wecker packed his family up and moved them down river to Owensboro, Kentucky.
According to Frank Wecker’s August 1908 obituary, “When Captain Jack Thompson raised for the Confederate army the first company of Daviess countians, the “Dixie Guards,” Frank Wecker marched away with them as Drummer and served throughout the war.”
In another article from Sunday, March 26, 1905, in the Owensboro Messenger it gave more information on Frank’s service. “His first experience as a soldier drummer was when he went away from Owensboro with captain Jack Thompson’s company of “Dixie Guards.” This company left Owensboro May 28, 1861. After one year’s service the whole company was mustered out, but Wecker had such a taste for soldier life that he at once joined the Third Virginia battery as a drummer.
Soon after enlisting in this division he was sent by his captain to Louisville with important letters to Cols. Throckmorton and Alexander, who were noted friends of the Confederacy, and who then lived in Louisville. One of the purposes of these letters was to have these gentlemen procure quinine then badly needed. This could not be obtained at once and the delay gave Mr. Wecker a chance to visit his old Owensboro home. On his arrival here he was arrested by Provost Marshal John R. Grissom and placed in military prison here. There he lingered for sometime until Gen. Forrest entered the city and released him.”
An earlier newspaper article from the Owensboro Monitor of May 29, 1888, that mentioned Frank stated that, “He & William Wallace are the only members who live in Owensboro of the Dixie Guards that left Owensboro during the Civil War 27 years ago, most of company of about 50 were killed at the Battle of Bull Run.”
So far it has proven impossible to trace Frank Wecker’s service in any Civil War record. All that has been left behind showing that he served at all is several newspaper accounts and one photograph of him in his uniform, which has come down through the family and it was said that he was about 16 years old when the photograph was taken.
After the war Frank spent decades working as a cook on riverboats and steamships. Perhaps his most noble work were the years that he spent as a nurse following the 19th Century Yellow Fever epidemics and nursing victims.
Frank Wecker appeared to be quite a character in Owensboro and much mention was made of his wide travels around the States, Central America and even a trip back to Germany.
He married Mattie Boehm on September 8, 1869 in Owensboro, Kentucky and they had twelve children. Several of their children died before adulthood.
Frank died on August 10, 1908 and was buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Owensboro now called the Mater Dolorosa Cemetery. His grave remains unmarked. It was after hearing that as a Civil War soldier he may have been eligible for a government veteran’s gravestone, I tried to locate records of his service to prove his participation.