Oak Creek Heroes – Private William Kolbow

Sixteen is an exciting time in life.  There might be first dates, or learning how to drive.  When William Kolbow was 16 in 1862, there were no cars.  Instead, there was the Civil War.  William Kolbow at 16 would be learning how to fight.  He enlisted on August 21, 1862.

Like many of his Wisconsin peers, William was born in Germany.  He immigrated to the US with his parents and settled in Oak Creek where the family had a farm.

William Kolbow joined the Union Army with the 28th Wisconsin Infantry, Company K, which was composed mostly of German immigrants from Milwaukee County. He participated in several battles and campaigns in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia. He was wounded twice, once at the Battle of Helena and once at the Battle of Spanish Fort. He was discharged on August 23, 1865, after three years of service.12

He returned to Oak Creek and married Anna Maria Schuette in 1868. They had eight children, four of whom died young. He continued to farm and worked as a carpenter. He died on June 4, 1885, at the age of 38, from complications of his war injuries. He was buried at the Oak Creek Cemetery, but his grave would be left unmarked for over a century.12

In 2016, his grave was located and identified by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Oak Creek Historical Society, with the help of his descendants. He was honored with a military headstone and a dedication ceremony on October 7, 2017. His name is also inscribed on a Civil War monument at the cemetery, along with other Oak Creek veterans who died in the war.134

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