Move Over, McCooks - The Kumlers of Butler County
Updated: Aug 2, 2022
Much is made of the Fighting McCooks of Ohio, seventeen first cousins who served the Union in various ways. Their exploits on some level are known to many in the Civil War community, from Private Charles M. McCook, killed at First Bull Run, to Alexander McDowell McCook, luckless corps commander in the Army of the Ohio/Cumberland. There is another Ohio family that deserves equal accolades, even if their accomplishments were on a lessor scale.
My youth was spent in Butler County, Ohio. In Hamilton, the county seat, there is a massive Soldiers, Sailors, and Pioneers monument that has listed on its walls those who served in a military capacity from the frontier period until the Spanish-American War. As a youngster I had visited the monument a time or two, but did not grasp until recently the Civil War importance of my home county. I certainly had little knowledge of the existence of the Kumler family, who had twenty-four men serve the Union. Kumler was simply the name of my high school football field, and nothing more. But in my recent efforts to learn more about Butler County's Civil War veterans, I stumbled across the Kumlers.
Henry (Heinrich) Kumler, born in 1775 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, would marry another Pennsylvania native, Susannah Wengert on September 5th, 1797. The name Kumler is most likely derived from kämmerer, a German word that means chamberlain, which is a person in charge of a noble household. Henry Kumler’s father Hans Jacob was born in Maisprach, Switzerland, while his mother, Elizabeth Jung, was from Bottmingen, also in Switzerland. Susannah’s father Joseph was another native Swiss. It is unknown where Susannah's mother, Maria Rubi Amwig, was born, but most likely she too was of Swiss heritage.
By 1822 Henry and Susannah would move to Ohio, settling in Wayne Township, Butler County. They would have over fifty years together before Henry died in 1854. He was of German Reformed Church background and left this denomination in 1811. He became a minister in the Miami Conference of the United Brethren in Christ Church. He usually preached in German. He was elected Bishop in 1825. The Kumlers in general produced numerous offspring, most of whom lived to adulthood. Henry and Susannah themselves would have twelve children. It was from nine of these twelve children that twenty-four of their grandsons would go to war.
The second eldest child of Henry and Susannah was Henry Jr., born in 1801, and who would marry Maria Christina Zeller in 1820. Of their ten children, Jesse B. (1832-1918) and Samuel E. (1839-1910) would serve the Union. Jesse would muster in as a private with Company I of the 31st Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) on September 19th, 1861, and muster out of service about a year later. During his year of service, he would transfer from Company I to the regimental band. Younger brother Samuel would be a commissary sergeant in Company H of the 15th United States Infantry. Both Jesse and Samuel are buried in Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio.
The third child of the Kumlers was Susannah (born 1804), who would marry John Zeller (Christina’s brother) in 1821. Of their twelve children Daniel K., Jacob A., Joseph S., and Elias R. would become soldiers in the Union army. Daniel K. (1821-1904) would be a captain in the 167th OVI, which was a one hundred days unit formed in the late spring of 1864. These one hundred days men were not intended to see action, instead were supposed to be used for guarding railroads, prisoner of war camps, and generally serve in rear areas. However, many of these regiments would be thrust into combat. Jacob A. would also serve in the 167th as a corporal. Joseph S. would serve three years in the Thirty-Fifth OVI, a regiment that saw over half of its strength come from Butler County families. He mustered out of the Thirty-Fifth as a corporal. Elias R. would also be a part of the 167th OVI as a private. Daniel is buried in Earlham Cemetery, Richmond, Indiana where he had been the head of the Zeller Baking Company. Jacob is buried in Pine Crest Cemetery in Mobile County, Alabama. Joseph is also in Earlham Cemetery, while Elias rests in Winterset Cemetery, Madison County, Iowa.
Elizabeth (born 1805) was the fourth child of Henry and Susannah, and she married Andrew Zeller (John and Christina Zeller’s older brother) in 1825. Their marriage produced five children, one of whom would enlist in the Union army. William S. (1829-1911) would be a corporal with many of his first cousins in the 167th OVI. He is buried in Germantown Cemetery, Montgomery County, Ohio.
The next child, Daniel (born 1807), would marry Catherine Walter in 1827. They had ten children, and four of their boys saw Civil War service, all in one hundred days regiments. Private William E. (1828-1896), Corporal Amos D. (1830-1902), and Private Jacob H. (1838-1932) all were in the 167th OVI, while Charles J. S. (1843-1921) was in the 156th OVI, serving as a sergeant major. William, Amos, and Jacob are all buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Hamilton, Ohio, while Charles rests in Mount Hope Cemetery in Miami County, Indiana.
Elias, the sixth child, was born in 1809. He would marry Ann Elizabeth Clippinger in 1829. While they had eleven children, only, only William F. (1839-1870) would serve during the war. He was yet another member of the 167th OVI, serving as a private. He is buried in Oxford Cemetery, Oxford, Ohio.
Jacob, the fourth son and the seventh child of Henry and Susannah, was born in 1811. He would marry Fanny Burtner in 1831. She would pass away in 1857, having given birth to ten children. The tribe of Jacob not only had most Kumler men go off to war but would also suffer many tragedies as a result of their dedication to the Union. Eldest son George B. (1832-1862) would join the Ninety-Third OVI as private on August 29th, 1862. Just a little over four months later he was dead, having been killed at the Battle of Stones River on December 31st. He is supposedly buried in the Stones River National Cemetery, but I cannot find a listing of him there. There is a cenotaph at Millville Cemetery, and I believe that as he is not listed at Stones River currently that perhaps his body was reinterred in Ohio. Abraham C. (1833-1919) is the next son of Jacob and Fanny to serve, and he would be a member of the 167th OVI as a sergeant. Henry J. (1838-1916) would serve with his brother George in the Ninety-Third Ohio as a private in Company F. Henry would be discharged for disability on January 28th, 1863. John M. (1840-1863) would join a United States Regular unit, the Fifteenth Infantry, in which his cousin Samuel was also a member (mentioned previously). As a private he would be killed in action on September 20th, 1863 at Chickamauga. Simon (1842-1863), as a private in the Thirty-Fifth OVI, would be killed in action charging up Missionary Ridge on November 25th, 1863. Francis M. (1845-1929) was a corporal in the 167th OVI. The Jacob Kumler sons most certainly did their duty, with three of them killed in battle within less than a years’ time. Abraham is buried in Oxford Cemetery. Henry is resting in Greenwood Cemetery. John was brought back to Ohio and is buried in Millville Cemetery, as is Simon. Frances is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Logan County, Ohio.
The next Kumler to have a son fight in the Civil War is Jacob’s twin brother Michael. Michael would marry Nancy Beam in 1833, and the couple would have ten children. Their sixth child, Abraham N. (1843-1921), would enlist in Company C of the Thirty-Fifth OVI, then transfer to Company C. He would serve his full three years in the regiment. It is not known where he is buried.
The tenth child of Henry and Susannah was John Kumler (1814-1891). John would marry Sarah Landis in 1836 and they would have eleven children. The Landis family would also have several men who would go off to serve in the Civil War. John and Sarah themselves had three boys that would serve: Philip Henry (1837-1902 and who was a twin with Henry Philip), John F. (1841-1910), and Austin L. (1843-1919). Philip and Austin were both corporals in the 167th OVI, while John would rise to the rank of first sergeant in the 83rd OVI. Austin would become a prominent lawyer in Lafayette, Indiana, and is buried there in Spring Vale Cemetery. Philip would become a judge and rests with many other Kumlers in Greenwood Cemetery in Hamilton, while John would also become a judge in Lucas County, Ohio, and is buried in Toledo’s Woodlawn Cemetery.
Catherine (1816-1889) was Henry and Susannah’s eleventh child, and the last to have sons serve in the Civil War. She would marry Henry Welty in 1840, and they would have five children together. Philip H. (1841-1922) would be a member of the 167th OVI, holding the rank of first lieutenant. Joseph F. (1844-1903) would also serve in the 167th as a seventeen-year-old corporal. Philip would live in Illinois after the war as a prominent businessman in Pekin, where he is buried in the Lakeside Cemetery. Joseph would move to California and is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Twenty-four grandsons of Henry and Catherine Kumler, nearly all living in Butler County when they enlisted, saw service during our most tragic conflict. These first cousins served in a number of different units. Thirteen would be members of the 167th OVI, a regiment raised in Butler County. Portions of the Thirty-Fifth, Eighty-Third, and Ninety-Third regiments were also from Butler County, and Kumler men were found in all of these. Three Kumlers were killed in action, young men who were all sons of Jacob and Fanny.
The service of the Kumlers during the Civil War extends far beyond Henry and Susannah’s grandsons, as Henry had brothers who also had numerous grandsons who would enlist in the Union army. Perhaps another post....
United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War
Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio
American Civil War Research Database
Find A Grave
A Historical and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio