Finding Joseph Keezler Civil War Draft

Joseph Keizler Naturalization Ohio
Name on Naturalization Certificate
issued in 1858

Since many records have Joseph Geißler spelled something like Keizler, I played around researching with this last name variation. I knew that Joseph was living in Prairie Township, Franklin County, Ohio in 1856 when he purchased land.

From the Franklin County Plat Atlas, 1856 Joseph Geißler (here spelled Guisler), father-in-law Heinrich Mäck (here spelled Maeck) Jr, and a third man Karl Pusecker purchased three adjacent properties of ten acres each, as verified by the 1856 plat atlas. The property was adjacent to the railway.

In the 1860 US Census,  Joseph is listed with his wife Caroline and their son Henry. Interestingly, both are listed as attending school. Several adults in the community are. They are still listed beside the Mack and Pusecker families as well. Again, the family is living in Praire, Franklin County, Ohio.

1860 US Census Prairie Franklin County Ohio
Year: 1860; Census Place: Prairie, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: M653_962; Page: 214; Image: 432; Family History Library Film: 803962, Family 904, Head of household Joseph Gusler

Knowing these bits of information and the many variations of Joseph’s last name used in his short years in America, I investigated the Civil War Draft Registration found on

Joseph Geissler Civil War Registration
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War); Collection Name: Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records); ARC Identifier: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 1 of 4.

In Prairie Township, there is a Joseph Keezler who is 30, a farmer, married, and originally from Germany. Since the last name matches with the signature on the naturalization certificate, which was issued in 1858, I have a strong belief that this record belongs to my ancestor. The record lists him as 30 years old. However, it is believed that he was 27. However, a definite birth date has not been established, so 30 might well be possible.

I shared this information with my fellow Geiszler cousin researching this line. He had this to say,

“I found the draft registration book for 1862, similar to the one you located at the National Archives for 1863.  It indicated that there was no draft in Franklin County that year, i.e., 1862. I scoured the 1860 census again twice and I could find no one else who might have been the man you found. I remain confident that the man you found in the 1863 book is our man, Joseph Geissler.”

I had also searched for similar names from Prairie Township and came to the same conclusion. I truly believe this record belongs to Joseph Geißler, my brick wall ancestor.

Now it is important to understand the Civil War record. The list above is a consolidated list, according to the source information provided by Ancestry. Each entry lists the individual’s name; place of residence; age on 1 July 1863 (though the record suggests June 1863). Joseph was classified as Class I. This means he was a man between the ages of 20 and 35 subject to military duty.

This last line struck me as vitally important:

“The actual draft registration records are available in NARA regional archives and sometimes contain more information than the consolidated lists.” – U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865

So… now I have a new item on my To Do List. Find the actual draft registration. Ancestry provided this original source citation, which should help me get to the original list

Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registrations, 1863-1865. NM-65, entry 172, 620 volumes. ARC ID: 4213514. Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), Record Group 110. National Archives, Washington D.C.

After playing around a bit, I found an entry for Original Enrollment Lists and Corrections, compiled 1863 – 1865,  ARC Identifier 4213515 / MLR Number NM-65 172A.

An article by Michael T Meier on the National Archives website seems to offer further insight.

The consolidated lists show these men as having been enrolled but give no clue as to why they did not serve. Answers to such questions should reside with the records of the various districts. Virtually all of the enrollment districts generated registers of enrolled men, lists of substitutes, and records relating to exemptions. 

The article further states that if someone on the draft registration is found in pension files or compiled service records, there is no need to investigate the draft records from the northern states.

If, on the other hand, the individual has neither a service record nor a pension file, and the researcher knows his age and place of residence, then a look at the records of the provost marshal may pay off. Researchers should keep in mind, though, that consolidated lists, corrections to enrollment, and other more arcane records are not complete and are fragile.

Examining further Civil War records about Joseph might indicate details about what he looked like and why he did not enlist (because of his death in early July 1863). Perhaps a Provost had information about the actual death and it could shine line on the truth of how he died.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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