2 January 2015

Johann Dienstbier

1838 — 1916


Veteran, 77, Died After Planning Own Funeral

Dr. John Dinsbeer 1  Served
Under Gen. Fremont In
Civil War -- Burial Will
Be in National Cemetery

Dr. John Dinsbeer, 77 years old, civil war veteran and for many years a practicing physician, died yesterday morning at his home, 3640 Wyoming street, after an illness of eight months. 2    Before his death he wrote his won obituary, selected his casket and arranged for his funeral, which will be at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon.

Dr. Dinsbeer's body will be buried in the National Cemetery at Jefferson Barracks with full military honors.  The services will be in charge of Frank P. Blair Post No. 1, G.A.R. 3 

His obituary gives his birthplace in Muehlhousen, Bavaria, March 7, 1838.  He came to St. Louis with his father in 1845.  At the outbreak of the war he answered President Lincoln’s call for volunteers and was among the first soldiers to go to Southeast Missouri.

Served Under Fremont.

He belonged to Company A, Rifle Battalion, attached to Frank Blair's regiment, and served for three months, then enlisting in Gen. Fremont's bodyguard and going to the Southwest with Gen. Fremont's army.  He took part in the famous cavalry charge at Springfield, Mo., September 25, 1861, when 180 of Fremont’s bodyguard defeated 2000 Confederates.

When Gen. Fremont was superseded by Gen. Hunter and the bodyguard was mustered out of service, Dinsbeer joined Company C, First Infantry, Missouri State Militia, and was commissioned second lieutenant.  He served with his regiment until the end of the war. 4 

Retired From Practice in 1906.

At the close of the war he entered the practice of medicine and followed his profession until 1906, when he retired

During his last illness Dr. Dinsbeer summoned an undertaker and selected his casket and gave detailed directions for his funeral which will be carried out.  There are to be no religious services other than those conducted by the G.A.R.

Dr. Dinsbeer is survived by his widow, two sons and two daughters. 5 

Source: From an undated and unidentified [St. Louis?] newspaper clipping in the possession of the Gerber family of St. Louis, Missouri. Transcription by J. Mark Fiegenbaum.

Another clipping dating from the same time period, and perhaps from the same newspaper, reported recently issued burial permits:  "John Dinsbeer.  77.  3640 Wyoming: aneurysm."

Begräbnis eines Veteranen.

Dr. Dinsbeer wird heute mit militärischen Ehren bestattet werden.

Dr. John Dinsbeer, der am Freitag in seiner Wohnung, No. 3640 Wyoming Straße, gestroben ist, wird heute Nachmittag auf dem National Friedhofe in den Jefferson Barracks mit militärischen Ehren beerdigt werden.  Dr. Dinsbeer, ein Veteran des Bürgerkrieges, hat diesen Wunsch ausgesprochen, wie er auch sämtliche Arrangements für sein Begräbnis vor seinem Tod schrifltlich niedergelegt hat.  Der Frank P. Blair Post, G.A.R, wird die Leitung der Feier übernehmen.  Dr. Dinsbeer, der 77 Jahre alt geworden ist, wurde in Bayern geboren, kam jedoch schon im Jahre 1845 nach St. Louis.  Im Verlaufe des Bürgerkrieges wurde er zum Second Leutnant ernannt.  Nach dem Kriege ließ er sich in St. Louis als Arzt nieder und er übte seine Praxis mit Umsicht und Pflichttreue aus, bis er sich im Jahre 1906 zur Ruhe setzte.  Dr. Dinsbeer wird von seiner Witwe, zwei Söhnen und zwei Töchtern überlebt.

A translation:

Funeral for a Veteran.

Dr. Dinsbeer will be Buried Today with Military Honors.

Dr. John Dinsbeer, who died on Friday at his home, 3640 Wyoming Street, will be buried this afternoon at the National Cemetery at Jefferson Barracks with military honors.  Before his death, Dr. Dinsbeer, a veteran of the Civil War, had left written instructions for his entire funeral arrangements.  The Frank P. Blair Post, G.A.R, will undertake leadership for the celebration.  Dr. Dinsbeer, who had attained the age of 77, was born in Bavaria, and came to St. Louis in 1845.  In the course of the Civil War he was appointed a second lieutenant.  After the War, he settled in St. Louis as a doctor and pursued his practice with discretion and faithfulness until his retirement in 1906.  Dr. Dinsbeer is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.

Source: From an undated and unidentified [St. Louis?] newspaper clipping in the possession of the Gerber family of St. Louis, Missouri. Transcription and translation by J. Mark Fiegenbaum.


  1. Perhaps one of the first matters which needs to be discussed is the spelling of the family surname. Johann or John appears to have deliberately chosen to use "Dinsbeer". It is the way in which he advertised his medical practice in the newspaper and it is the way his name appears in military records during the time of his service in the Civil War and also many years later when both chambers of the U.S. Congress discussed his military record.

    John's father, Heinrich, however, used a different spelling when creating his last will and testament in 1871. It might be more accurate to state that more than one different spelling was used in connection with the settlement of Heinrich's estate. On the exterior of the document, his surname appeared as Dienstbier. Throughout the document itself, his lawyers, Leo Rassieur and Reinhold Buder, or at least their clerk, spelled the name Dinstbier. In 1875 when it came time to record the will before the Probate Court of the County of St. Louis, the deceased had returned to being Henry Dienstbier.

    A digital image of Heinrich's signature on his last will and testament is perhaps not clear enough to end the debate on spelling the surname:

    Signature on Heinrich Diestbier's will

    I feel it shows the family name leaning towards the Dienstbier spelling. This is the form of the surname I will use when referring to this family unless I am quoting from a document that employs a different spelling.

    The Missouri State Archives, when creating an index of the digital images of Heinrich Dienstbier's will that are available on the internet, ended up spelling the surname "Diensbier". This variation is clearly a typographical error and has no legitimate place in the family genealogy. However, it should serve to illustrate just how imaginative a researcher must be in order to investigate his heritage. The number of disguises the Fiegenbaum surname has assumed is both hilarious and shocking.

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  2. According to his death certificate, Dr. Elbrecht attended "John Dinsbeer" from 9 October 1915 until his last visit on 20 January 1916. The doctor determined that death occurred at 9:30 a.m. on 21 January 1916. The cause of death was an "Aneurysm Aortic (Abdominal)", with senility as a contributory factor.

    "Esther Dinsbeer", whose address was the same as John Dinsbeer's, is on record as having provided the personal information on the death certificate. According to that section of the document, John was born on 7 March 1848 and died at the age of 77 years, 10 months, 17 days. However, the reported dates of birth and death do not support the calculated age at death. Furthermore, a birth in 1848 would have made John rather young to have played a military role in the Civil War. It would appear that the year of birth reported in the newspaper - 1838 - is probably more accurate than the year on the death certificate.

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  3. John Dinsbeer, under that name, having achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was buried in the National Cemetery at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri - section 29, grave 12466. According to his death certificate, burial was to have taken place on 23 January 1916.

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  4. John enlisted and was mustered into service on 8 May 1861 as a private in Company A, Rifle Battalion, attached to First Regiment Missouri Volunteers. He was honorably discharged at St. Louis on 2 August 1861.

    John served as a private in Company B, Fremont's Body Guard, Missouri Cavalry. He enlisted and was mustered into service at St. Louis, Missouri on 20 August 1861, and was honorably discharged at St. Louis on 30 November 1861.

    On 14 April 1862 he was mustered into service as a second lieutenant of Company B, Missouri State Militia (later known as Company C, First Mounted Rifles and then as Company C, First Missouri State Militia Infantry) to serve for three years.

    On 8 July 1864, John was commissioned a first lieutenant of Company E, Thirty-second Regiment, Missouri State Militia.

    However, there was a serious blemish on John Dinsbeer's record. Apparently on 12 October 1863, soldiers of the First Regiment of Infantry, Missouri State Militia, under Second Lieutenant John Dinsbeer, and of the First Regiment, Nebraska Volunteer Infantry, got into an altercation with soldiers and officers of the garrison at Jefferson City, Missouri. Among other events, there was an incident at the railway station where Brigadier General Totten, dressed in civilian clothing, was not afforded the respect he felt was due his rank. Second Lieutenant Dinsbeer was tried by general court-martial on three charges: neglect of duty, to the prejudice of good order and military discipline; disobedience of the lawful command of his superior officer; conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline.

    Dinsbeer was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to be dismissed from service. The sentence was approved and promulgated on 16 January 1864 by General Orders, No. 5, headquarters Department of the Missouri.

    But the incident was not over. On 23 May 1898, the Committee on Military Affairs, House of Representatives, 55th Congress, submitted a report (No. 1391) in support of H. R. 8119, concluding that a grave injustice had been done to Lieutenant Dinsbeer. Later, on 1 March 1899, Senate Report 1863 approved the House Report.

    It would appear that the dismissal of Dinsbeer was reversed, for at the time of his burial in the National Cemetery at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, he was identified as a Second Lieutenant.

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  5. It has been difficult to discover information about Johann Dienstbier's family life. It would appear that he was married three times - the date, the place and disposition of the marriages are not always clear. There are indications that the first two marriages may have ended in divorce, and that all of John's children were born during the first marriage.

    Johann Dienstbier's father, Heinrich, also had 3 marriages and the details of these unions are just as sparse.

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Brief Genealogy

Johann Dienstbier's family

His father's 1st marriage

His father's 2nd marriage

His father's 3rd marriage

Charlotte's family

Nothing is known at this time about Charlotte, her birth family or her marriage to Johann Dienstbier.

Johann & Charlotte Dienstbier's family

Johann's 1st marriage

Mary Lowry's family

Dienstbier - Lowry family

Johann Dienstbier's 2nd marriage

Esther Bell Lybarger's family

Dienstbier - Lybarger family

Johann Dienstbier's 3rd marriage

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