Could There Be More Than The Draft?

, Could There Be More Than The Draft?

In the post  Another Land in Crisis, I share the story of how my German immigrant 3-times great-grandfather Joseph Geißler had come to America potentially to escape the turmoil in Baden following the 1848 German revolution only to have his new country descend into the Civil War. In June 1863, Joseph would sign the Union draft register show above. My curious nature wants to know if there is more information that can be found beyond this document.

Joseph Keezler is the last name on this document, right under John Kinnear.
These names are men from the small village of Prairie Township with the last name beginning with K.

As stated before, I know that Joseph was in Prairie Township at this time of this documents’ creation, even though he had sold his property back to James Kinnaird in December 1862. There is a John Kinnear listed above Joseph on this document who is also from Prairie. It’s possible that this was Joseph’s neighbor.

This document indicated that Joseph was from Germany, was about 30 at the time of this record, and was married. Based on his age, Joseph was classified as Class I. This means he was a man between the ages of 20 and 35 and subject to military duty.i

Is this all that I can ever learn about Joseph? I know that he was never discovered in the service of the Civil War as he died the following month in Ohio, not in service, at least according to family legend. Did he die during basic training? Would he have fought in the war in attempts to provide financial support for his family? The drought of 1862 affected many in Franklin County, Ohio and with the sale of his land back to the Kinnards at the end of that year, perhaps serving in the war could have provided for his wife and three small children. Is this the entirety of records available about Joseph in conjunction with the Civil War?

The short answer is maybe.

Good genealogical practice says one should know more about the record set you are viewing. is where I discovered this information, so I clicked on the ‘More about this collection” and discovered this:

These records include 631 volumes of registries and are basically lists of individuals who registered for the draft. The records are split into two different classes, Class I are those aged 20-35 as well as those 36-45 and unmarried. Class II is everyone else that registered.

The actual draft registration records are available in NARA regional archives and sometimes contain more information than the consolidated lists.

It would be worth examining the regional archives to determine if there indeed is more information available beyond the consolidated lists.ii

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

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 report 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.

Joseph falls into the category where there is no Civil War pension file. No company and unit were ever attributed to him. It’s possible that he died in ‘basic training’ prior to fulfilling his unit duties. That would complicate or expand his death story.
Yet, it’s possible that the records pertaining to Joseph are incomplete or so fragile they are not accessible. Wouldn’t it be great if the additional records related to the draft, rather than the consolidated list, indicated more details about his physical appearance or why he did not serve? Perhaps a Provost had information about the actual death and it could shine line on the truth of how he died.

At this time, I do not have the ability to investigate this matter further. If a genealogy genie has easy access to the Original Enrollment Lists and Correction and wouldn’t mind looking up Joseph Keezler (or Keizler) from Prairie Township, Franklin County, Ohio which was in the 7th Congressional District, I would be truly grateful. However, my current plan is to tuck this future research task away until time or resources become available to hire out the task or do it myself.

i. 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. 
ii. Original Enrollment Lists and Corrections, compiled 1863 – 1865,  ARC Identifier 4213515 / MLR Number NM-65 172A.
iii. Meier, Michael T. “Civil War Draft Records: Exemptions and Enrollments.” Prologue Magazine. Winter 1994, Vol. 26, No. 4. Accessed January 20, 2016.

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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