William F. Yaeger, baptized Friedrich Wilhelm Jäger, was the son of Caspar Diederich Jäger and Henriette Wilhelmine Busch. He was born on 26 August 1839 in Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen and baptized at Marienkirche, an Evangelical church.

William emigrated, at age nine, with his parents from Bremen to New Orleans on the SS Louisiana, arriving on 10 December 1848. They moved to St. Louis and lived in the area now known as “the Hill,” later part of St. Louis City. William’s confirmation occurred in 1853 at St. Peter’s Evangelical Church in St. Louis.

With the start of the Civil War in 1861, William, aged twenty-two, quickly joined two different three-month units of the Enrolled Missouri Militia created to help keep St. Louis and Missouri in the Union. When those terms ended, he enlisted again in September 1861 and served for the duration of the war in Company F, 10th Illinois Infantry. Wounded at Missionary Ridge, his official papers indicate he was only slightly wounded in the shoulder or the leg. But descendants Edna Straub, Harriet McMillan, and Elly Wright all passed along that he reported he had been wounded in the middle of the forehead and a metal plate inserted into his head; evidently his exaggeration! Discharged in Rossville, Georgia, after recovering from his injury, he re-enlisted in March 1864 as a “Veteran Volunteer.” He was detached as a teamster in Atlanta during Sherman’s march. Promoted from private to corporal in April 1865, his regular pay increased from $8.49 to $20.42. Finally discharged in July 1865 in Louisville, Kentucky, he was paid $210, leaving $190 due to him.

William married Caroline Sibÿlla Kaiser, daughter of Philipp Jakob Kaiser and Catherine A. Walter, on 9 April 1868 at the Webster Groves Presbyterian Church, the first marriage in this church. Daughter Katharine was born in 1870. William built a house on the Sylvester Avenue corner of his father’s estate on Big Bend Road, where second daughter, Mathilda, was born in 1875.

In 1885, with a mortgage, William purchased eleven acres at Big Bend and Rock Hill Roads, possibly the former land of his wife’s family. But then between August 1886 and January 1889 he was called upon to execute his father, Caspar’s, will, trying both his patience and his finances. In 1887, he defaulted on the mortgage for the eleven acres, which were auctioned.

From the end of 1888, William was a member of the Brouster [Brewster] post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) where he held offices. His story telling likely matured in this organization! His 1884 petition for a military pension due to injury was rejected. By 1910, invalid status was no longer required and William’s pension was granted on 16 January 1911.

At age seventy-two, William F. Yaeger died on 10 January 1912 at home in Webster Groves. The funeral at his residence on Big Bend was conducted by the GAR. He has a tombstone in the Yaeger plot at Oak Hill Cemetery, Kirkwood, but obituaries said he was cremated and buried at the Missouri Crematorium.

Written by Carol Whitton
April 2017
© 2017, St. Louis Genealogical Society

William Yaeger
William Yaeger and his Civil War rifle
Photo in the collection of Carol Whitton
Used with permission

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Last Modified: 26-Oct-2018 19:43