The Civil War Letters of Frank B. Knause

Benjamin Franklin (or Frank B.) Knause (1843-1914) was born on 24 March 1843 in Waterloo, Seneca county, New York, and was a resident of Calhoun County, Michigan, when he enlisted as a private in the “Wolverine Rifle Rangers,” or Co. E, of the 6th Michigan Infantry on 1 July 1861 at Fort Wayne, Michigan. He mustered into the 6th Michigan on 20 August, and re-enlisted at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on 23 February 1864, and was discharged on 15 September 1865 at Jackson, Michigan. His pension record indicates an alias of Frank B. Knause. He successfully applied for an invalid pension in 1890, certificate 749,128. As per his obituary in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, he was a member of a Western post of the G. A. R. That obituary, which confirmed his Civil War service, also noted that his son, Dr. B. F. Knause, was associated with the infectious disease department of the New York City Board of Health. Knause lived at 1076 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn; he resided in Bushwick for twenty years. After his death from a carcinoma, Frances (“Fannie”) Maria Knause (18xx-1937), his widow, was awarded a pension in 1914, certificate 782, 268. Section 204, lot 34079, graves 1 & 2, Greenwood Cemetery.

Frank’s parents were Benjamin Knause (1808-1869) and Elizabeth Mensch (1813-1856). His siblings were John W. Knause (b. 1833), Mary Catherine Knause (b. 1836), and Elizabeth (“Libbie”) Emma Knause (1838-1923). In 1850, the Knause family resided in Ridgeway, Orleans county, New York, where Frank’s father worked as a “Gib Maker.” In 1860, the Knause family lied on a farm they called Grove Garden in Marengo township, Calhoun county, Michigan. From Frank’s letters we learn that Benjamin was a vegetable farmer and hauled produce regularly into nearby Marshall. We also learn that he raised hops on his farm.

You will notice that Frank’s mother died in 1856 yet he directs many of his Civil War letters to his “Father and Mother.” Sometime shortly after Frank’s biological mother died, Frank’s father remarried to a woman named Tirzah H. Peck (1826-1910) and together they had at least one child named Carrie S. Knause, born about 1862. Tirzah was the orphaned daughter of Daniel Comstock Peck (1794-1842) and Samantha Curtis (1796-1842) of Hastings, Oswego county, New York.

Frank’s older brother, John W. Knause, married Martha (“Matt”) E. Bridenbecker (b. 1836), the daughter of William and Sarah (Unk) Bridenbecker of Frankfort, Herkimer county, New York. We know from Frank’s letters that John & Matt were married on 22 February 1865 and were enumerated shortly thereafter in Springfield, Massachusetts, where John worked as a machinist. By 1880, John and Matt resided in Jersey City, New Jersey.

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Pvt. Harlan P. Hurd of the 17th New York Light Artillery

Frank’s sister Mary Catherine Knause was married in July 1857 to Harlan Page Hurd (1838-1926) in Brockport, Monroe county, New York, and later resided in Frankfort, Herkimer county, New York. Harlan was the second of eight children born to Russell Frost Hurd and Nancy Ann Frost of Orleans county, New York. Mary and Harlan had several children, the oldest of whom are mentioned in Frank’s letters: Willard (“Willie”) Kendall Hurd (1858-1877), Mary Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Hurd (b. 1860), and Harlan (“Harrie”) Page Hurd, Jr. (b. 1863). During the period covered by these letters, Mary’s husband — Harlan P. Hurd — was serving as a private in the 17th New York Independent Light Artillery (a.k.a the Orleans Battery). Harlan served from August 1862 and was promoted to corporal before mustering out in June 1865. Immediately after the war, the Hurd family moved to Corry, Erie Co., Pennsylvania. They remained there until 1880, and then moved to Newark, New Jersey, where Harlan established the Newark Door Company.

A great many of the letters that survive were written to Frank’s older sister, Elizabeth “Libbie”) Emma Knause (1838-1923). On-line genealogical records reveal that she married Charles Ryland Brown (1824-1898). One record indicates that she married on 27 February 1865 but Frank’s letters tell us that she was still unmarried in the spring of 1865 so the marriage most likely took place in 1866. Libbie and Charles spent their years together in Bradford, McKean county, Pennsylvania — Libbie often working as a school teacher. In the spring of 1865, Libbie left her father’s home in Michigan to live with her older, married sister Mary Hurd who lived in Frankfort, Herkimer county, New York.

Frank occasionally mentions his “Uncle Adam.” This was his biological mother’s brother, Adam Mensch (1807-1887), a resident of Marshall, Calhoun county, Michigan. Adam was married to Maria Anna Wheeler (18xx-1877).

To read transcriptions and see images of of Frank’s letters, go to the menu at the top of this page or click here.