SUVCW Dept. of Wisconsin Commanders:
Frederick Julius Walthers

Frederick J. WalthersFrederick Julius Walthers was born January 30, 1863, in what was the thriving little village of Humboldt, now part of Milwaukee’s northside. His father, Capt. William Walthers von Alten, a pioneer Milwaukee educator, served as captain of Company K, 34th Wisconsin Infantry.

At age 18, Frederick graduated from the city high school, 3rd in a class of 30. At 19, he graduated from the Milwaukee Normal School as salutorian. He then worked as a teacher in Milwaukee’s public schools for three years. In 1885, he began law school at the State University in Madison, graduating in June 1887. He had a frank and genial nature, was popular and a good talker. He was president of the Law Class Society, a prominent member of the leading literary and debating society, and active in athletics.

After graduating, Walthers spent six months in Europe. Upon his return, he opened a law and real estate office on Milwaukee’s south side, helping immigrants learn English and obtain their papers. He was also active in the Republican Party, the Kindergarten Verein, the Iroquois Club, and the Milwaukee Bar Association. He married Emma Maier on July 14, 1892 and had one son, William Kearney, who became an electrical engineer and founded W.K. Walthers, Inc., a model railroading company.

When the Sons of Veterans organized in Wisconsin, F.J. Walthers was appointed the 3rd Grand Division’s Assistant Inspector General and an aide to the Commander-in-Chief. In late 1883, he organized Milwaukee’s Robert Chivas Camp #7, the predecessor of Badger Camp #1, and was elected its captain (Camp Commander). He resigned this post when he went to Madison. In October 1885, while attending law school, he organized Col. Charles Gill Camp #15 and was again chosen captain. He served as such until elected to the colonelcy (Commander) of the Wisconsin Division (Department) on July 24, 1886. Before leaving office in August 1887, the number of Wisconsin’s working Camps had risen from three to 25.

In late 1888, Walthers organized and was elected commander of Milwaukee’s C.K. Pier Camp #35. He led the Camp for three years and remained active through its 1901 merger with Camp #1.

During the 1889 National GAR Encampment in Milwaukee, Walthers served on the Sons of Veterans Committee, coordinating support, as well as a separate Sons campfire program and reunion. He was listed as one of 24 charter members on the Department charter. Over the next three decades, he served in various capacities at the Camp, Department and National level.

Walters was elected Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief at the 1919 National Encampment. Despite a post WWI depression, competition from new veterans’ organizations and an uncertain political climate, he was convinced of our Order’s great possibilities. He saw the Sons exerting an educative influence on the citizenry, especially youth, and upholding the guarantee of our Constitution for present and future generations.

Brother Walthers death on August 4, 1924, at age 61, was a very hard blow to Camp #1. He had been a very energetic member and was well liked and thought of by everyone. Per his request, Camp 1 charter members acted as pall bearers, during his funeral. Forty members were in attendance. He was buried in Milwaukee’s Forest Home Cemetery in Section 4, Block 44, Lot 27.

Information Sources:
From Borgwardt Sons Funeral Home, Milwaukee
Milwaukee County Historical Society
Milwaukee Sentinel
Press Forward the Good Work, History of the Wisconsin Dept. SUVCW by PCinC Stephen Michaels, Wisconsin Dept. SUVCW, 1998 and 2006

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Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Department of Wisconsin


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