Charcoal drawing confirms soldier’s identity

From time to time, my friend, Dale Reeves, a Civil War aficionado, stops by to visit and share history.

Not long ago, I handed him a photograph of Vandalia’s Civil War hero, Col. Lucien Greathouse, in full military dress, one that has been published in this newspaper on several occasions.

Dale’s first comment was a question about whether Greathouse was in the cavalry or infantry. Greathouse, who received the Brevet General designation shortly before his death near Atlanta on July 22, 1864, was commander of the 7th Brigade, 123rd Illinois Infantry. "Why, then, is he posed with a cavalryman’s sword?" he asked. I, personally, did not know there was a difference, but that is not my field.

Dale answered his own question, when he told me that the photographer probably loaned the colonel the curved-handled sword as a prop. His boots, greatcoat, sidearm and officer’s hat all fit his rank and status; it was only the sword that stuck out like a sore thumb – to a Civil War aficionado.

He then handed me a photograph – the one accompanying this story. Charlie Townsend of Vandalia was the source of the photo. He had shared it with Dale, telling him the subject was John Strobel, a Vandalia man. Nothing more was known, except that it appears that the original image is a charcoal drawing, from which this photograph has been made.

I immediately thought "Ramsey family," so I turned to the back issues of "Fayette Facts," and looked up the history of the Strobel family.

Cousins Jacob and Christian Ewalt Strobel settled in Ramsey after the Civil War. Jacob, a harness maker, was born in Wurttemberg, Germany, on April 23, 1840, the son of Frederick and Margaret Strobel, who came to America in 1852. Jacob served in the Civil War and came to Ramsey in 1872.

Frederick’s cabinet-maker brother, John M. Strobel, and his wife, Catherine Harmon, of Stuttgart, Wurttemberg, Germany, came at the same time, with both families settling in Wheeling, W. Va. There, Frederick died in a mine accident.

John M. and Catherine Strobel moved to St. Mary’s County, W. Va., and this is where their son, Christian Ewalt, was born in 1856. He was Ramsey’s butcher in 1880.

The descendants of Jacob and Christian Strobel can find no connection with the third Strobel to appear in Ramsey Township – John Strobel, our soldier.

John Strobel was born on Jan. 1, 1840, in Germany, son of Andrew Strobel, and came to America with his parents at age 4, settling in Madison County.

In 1861, John traveled to Jefferson Barracks, Mo., to enlist in the Union Army, and was attached to Co. D, 1st Missouri Cavalry Regiment. His rank was private, with his specific job as a blacksmith. His unit saw action in battles of Bayou Fourche, Jenkins Ferry and Prairie D’Ann.

John married Emma Hotz on June 20, 1865, in Highland. She was the daughter of Chris Hotz. They were parents of 10 children: two dying in infancy, Anne and Gustave, and a daughter, Lizzie Schaefer, preceding them in death in 1904. The seven surviving included: Lena Hoffman, Amelia Holdman, George, John, Charles, Andy and Edward Strobel.

I then turned to Paul Stroble’s book, "Journeys Home," to see if I could uncover a connection to his Stroble family. In this book, I learned that Pvt. John Strobel was Paul’s great-grandfather.

Paul’s connection was through John’s son, Andrew Christian "Andy" Strobel, the only member of the family to change the spelling to Stroble.

Paul confirmed that the young soldier was, indeed, John Strobel, because he had the charcoal version of the picture that his father, Paul Sr., had acquired from a cousin.

Andy Strobel married Permelia Jane Carson, the daughter of James S. and Permelia Swanson Carson. They were parents of Paul and Gladys Stroble Houck. Andy died in 1935, a couple of years after his father.

John Strobel came to the county between 1880 and 1890, when he was found on Ramsey Township tax assessment lists. He was a farmer near Ramsey.

John Strobel died on Aug. 26, 1932, with burial in Ramsey Cemetery. World War I veterans from Vandalia and Ramsey attended the funeral, as did 90-year-old Mr. Michel, of Altamont, who had served in Company D with the deceased. His wife, Emma, died in 1937, and is buried beside him.

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