This Article was published in the Martinez News-Gazette on 4/05/2017
One of the most glorious and gratifying experiences we’ve had was to reunite August Mueller with his direct descendants after we, a gravestone expert, and a city employee noticed his broken headstone, face down, during a walk-through near the section of Potter’s Field. Utilizing the information from his headstone inscription and genealogical websites, we located his Great-grandson John Bauer and his Great-granddaughters: Kristin Hawley, Kathleen Bauer, Mary Corsetti and her husband Donald, who had been looking for August’s final resting place for over 20 years. Special thanks to all of them for sharing and letting us use the numerous newspaper articles, pictures, and documents they had for us to tell his following story…
Ferdinand August Mueller was born on January 28, 1846, in Elbing, Prussia (now known as Elblag, Warminsko-Mazurskie, Poland) to Jacob and Paulina Goeppinger Mueller. August’s father died when he was 16, which eventually leads him to migrate to the U.S. After arriving in the United States in 1867 at the age of 19, he joins the army as a private for Company K, 12th U.S. Infantry during the reconstruction period after the American Civil War. August Mueller stood at 5 feet 5 inches tall, fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. In Lieutenant Charles W. Abbot Jr.'s book, The Twelfth Regiment of Infantry, Lt. Abbot Jr. states "Company K left Washington and proceeded west to post in Camp Gaston, CA, ... an isolated post almost near an Indian agency, which involved more or less work inspecting supplies, etc." At Camp Gaston, August earns promotion to Corporal on June 1, 1869 then Sergeant on December 1, 1869. He was honorably discharged on June 29, 1870.
Shortly thereafter, August becomes a U.S. Citizen. His citizenship papers read, “In the County Court of Humboldt County, State of California, on September 14, 1870, … August Mueller be, and is hereby admitted and declared to be a Citizen of the United States of America.” On September 17, 1870, August signs his first California Voter’s Registration card in Humboldt County, CA. On November 18, 1873, he signs his second voter’s registration listing him as 28 years old and a civilian merchant.
To better get acquainted with August, we turn to excerpts from two newspaper articles. The first article finds August in Livermore, CA where he meets his future wife, Katherine “Kate/Kittie” Sangmaster from one of Livermore’s founding families. They were married on November 6, 1877, with the wedding and reception being a “roaring” success. The Livermore Herald reads, “At 1:30 p.m. the bride, groom, and ... spacious dining rooms were thrown open to the public... which lasted nearly to 4 o’clock ... at 10:30, night became at once hideous. About 50 citizens had assembled outside, each armed with an oil can, and other hideous instruments, making an unearthly noise, after which Mr. M. opened his doors and invited them all inside, to partake of excellent refreshments... appropriate songs were sung... and congratulations were continued until about 1am.”
The second article written by August himself was published in the Echo Livermore newspaper on November 1883. “His first appearance into Livermore Valley was about 12 years ago. He was not two weeks in town before he made himself conspicuous in organizing a Fire Department. Then he helped to start the Twilight Club, then the Laurel Wreath Social Club, Livermore Brass Band, Turn Verein, Jolly Bachelors, etc. Now when any of Gus’s friends approached him and ridiculed him about interesting himself in such concerns – because you know Gus could not dance, was not even a conversationalist or an entertainer; he did not have musical voice enough to holler fish up a dark alley – Gus would say, ‘My dear friend, I intend to stay here. I intend to grow up with this town, and all these things help to assist the prosperity of this place; all these things advance the social inclinations in this valley.’ Well Gus’s creations ran a little while and then died. Gus started a hotel, all for the benefit of the public generally, ran it about two years and then busted.
Gus left and we thought we had seen the last of the Public Benefactor. We were left alone three, four, five years but these kind of characters hang on to their hobby with the tenacity worthy of an English bull dog. Gus was here last week and wants us to harvest our alkali and utilize it! Laugh, readers, laugh; because this idea is as preposterous as Brother Barlett’s idea was in turning the whole of Livermore Valley into one great vineyard....”
According to the Martinez County Hospital records August was admitted on March 22, 1908 for heart problems (stroke). The June 6, 1908 Martinez News Gazette reads, “August Mueller, who died in the County Hospital on May 31 was buried at 1:30 pm yesterday under the direction of undertaker H. J. Curry. Deceased had reached the age of 62 years, 4 months and 2 days. He was a native of Germany and leaves a widow, Kate Mueller, who resides in Richmond. Interment was in Alhambra Cemetery.” His headstone is currently undergoing restoration and will be reinstalled later this month. Again special thanks to August’s family for all of their help. To learn more about August, please visit our website martinezcemetery.org/august-mueller.
If you have any information, records or stories of those buried in the Alhambra Cemetery that can help us with our research, please drop us a line at email@example.com or call us at (925) 335-9396.
The next official Cemetery Cleanup Day is Saturday May 13th from 10 am – 2 pm. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a pair of gloves. Lunch provided by E Clampus Vitus, with morning refreshments provided by the Potter’s Field Restoration Project for its volunteers.
Judie & Joseph Palmer are two of the founding members of the Potter’s Field Restoration Project and its Martinez Cemetery Committee for the Martinez Historical Society. Joseph is also a MHS Board Director, chairman of the committee and webmaster of its website. Both have a passion for discovery, history, genealogy, anthropology and archaeology.