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Gen. William George Steinmetz (1838-1898)
Posted by: H.M. Smith (ID *****2812) Date: May 13, 2003 at 08:56:43
  of 370

Here is detailed information about William George Steinmetz, husband of Jane Columbia McKelden. He served with distinction in the Civil War, then held civic posts in NY City, and for a brief time was involved with the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in some capacity. If you have further information, please post.

(William3 Purser McKelden & Mary Ann Blagrove, John2 McKelden & Margaret Elliott, William1 McKelden & Sarah1 _____)
Daughter of William3 Purser McKelden and Mary Ann Blagrove. Born 1 October 1846. Died 25 September 1908 of "pyo niphosis", Washington, DC. She was buried 28 September 1908 in Section D, Lot 199, Site 5, Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, DC "age 62." Married 22 November 1864 by the Rev. John Thrush at the home of the bride in Washington, DC to William George Steinmetz. He was the son of W. G. Steinmetz "of Prussia." He was born 25 June 1838 in Prussia and died of "uraemia" 27 April 1898. He was buried 30 April 1898 in Section D, Lot 199, Site 6, Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, DC, "age 61 years, 9 months."

Children of Jane Columbia McKelden and William George Steinmetz were:
i.       +Charles McKelden Steinmetz (1865-1940)
ii.        Anne Maria Steinmetz (1867(?)-1868)
iii.       +William George Steinmetz (1871-1940)
iv.        Harriet Stevenson Steinmetz (1874-1874)

William George Steinmetz may possibly have served in the 2nd Cavalry California Volunteers with his future brother-in-law Charles Garnet Gordon, though that seems increasingly unlikely as research continues. His Civil War service is indicated in the notes below.

No Steinmetz listings in 1860 census for Washington, DC.

1880 Census Index of Brooklyn (King's County), New York from (The identity of William P. McKelden in the chart below is undoubtedly William Purser McKelden, father of Jennie C. McKelden, though his age is obviously incorrect. He would have been about 74, not 40.)

Name       Rel       Status       Age       Birth       Occ       F's birth       M's birth
William G. Steinmetz       self       M       42       Prussia       Architect Comptroller of City       Prussia       Prussia
, Jennie C.       wife       M       33       MD       Keeping house       Eng       MD
, Charles M.       son       S       15       DC              Prussia       MD
, William G.       son       S       9       DC              Prussia       MD
McKelden, William P.        other       Wid       40 (sic)       Eng       Clerk in office       Eng       Eng
Patterson, Annie       other       S       30       Ire       Domestic servant       Ireland       Ireland

Cemetery records give "Buffalo, NY" as place of his residence.

Cemetery records give "1945 Baltimore St. N.W." as place of her residence.

Application of Jennie C. Steinmetz for a widow's civil war pension noted his service: "F 8 N.Y. Inf." Also had application for invalid pension filed 1863. This information is consistent with this person described below:
William Steinmetz Service Record:Enlisted as a Private on 23 April 1861 in New York City, NY. Enlisted in Company F, 8th Infantry Regiment New York on 23 April 1861.
was POW on 11 June 1862
was Wounded on 11 June 1862
was Confined on 15 June 1862
was Paroled on 03 August 1862
Received a disability discharge on 06 December 1862 in New York, NY

Sources: New York: Report of the Adjutant-General. (NYRoster) Published in 1894-1906. This data from Historical Data Systems, comp. Military Records of Individual Civil War Soldiers. [database on-line] Provo, UT:, 1999-. Data compiled by Historical Data Systems of Kingston, MA from a long list of sources enumerated at

Notes about Gen. William G. Steinmetz in the New York Times:
2 April 1876       Reference to "William G. Steinmetz, Superintendent of Government Buildings in New-York."

14 Nov. 1876       "A tailor named Wennsher, residing in Williamsburg, having assumed the name of and represented himself to be Gen. Steinmetz, of Henry Street, in this City, promised to marry a woman named Zucker, in New-York. He refused to carry out his promise, and the woman's friends wrote to Gen. Steinmetz threatening to expose him if he did not marry her. The general had them arrested for attempted blackmail, but they were discharged when it was shown that they believed Wenncher to be Gen. Steinmetz. Now the women have commenced a suit for false imprisonment against Steinmetz, laying their damages at $5,000. Wenncher has fled to Europe."

18 Oct. 1878       "Gen. William G. Steinmetz, the nominee for controller, was born in Germany 40 years ago, and has been in this country 20 years. At the breaking out of the rebellion he enlisted as a private in the Eighth New York Volunteers. Being a civil engineer by profession, he soon received an appointment on Gen. Fremont's staff, in which position he had charge of the civil engineering of the Army of the Potomac. At the battle of Cross Keys in Virginia in 1862 he was shot in the leg, and the limb was amputated on the battlefield. Subsequently he was taken prisoner and was confined in Libby prison. At the close of the war, he was appointed superintendent of Repairs of United States Buildings, and while in this capacity he superintended the erection of the Post Office in this City [Brooklyn]."

8 Nov. 1878       Elected to the Board of Directors of the New York and Long Island Bridge Company.

26 April 1879       "Controller Steinmetz, of Brooklyn, holds that the law requires him to retain the interest on the Bridge bonds already issued until the completion of the bridge. The Directors will, therefore, receive but $300,000 instead of the $970,000 which they expected to draw from Brooklyn."

12 Oct. 1880 page 8       "The Trustees of the Brooklyn Bridge held a short but lively meeting yesterday afternoon. Controller Steinmetz, of Brooklyn, submitted a communication, in which he protested against the action of the board in holding meetings with closed doors and against the loose manner in which their bids for contracts were drawn. Before it was read Mr. Kingsley moved that the communication be laid on the table. This was done in spite of Gen. Steinmetz's earnest protests. As the board was leaving the room, General Steinmetz and Mr. Kingsley had another tilt. The latter accused the Controller of introducing "petty ward tactics" into the board, and told him the latter represented nobody. The Controller retorted that he would "accept that from Mr. Kingsley but from nobody else." "

22 Oct. 1880       "Mr. Ford of the Sixth Ward, nominated Gen. William G. Steinmetz. It was unnecessary, he said, in a convention of republicans to pass any encomium on Gen. Steinmetz. Every citizen knew that he had discharged the duties of the office for the past two years faithfully. Mr. Maverick seconded the nomination, as did also ex-Alderman Hay, who spoke of Controller Steinmetz's determined opposition to the ring. He had prevented stealing from the city Treasury, and in the matter of the bridge contract had saved both cities from losing much money. On motion of Mr. Fairchild, the nomination was made by acclamation."

30 Oct. 1880, page 8       "General Steinmetz, the Republican candidate for controller, denounces as a campaign lie the statement made by Ludwig Semler, the Democratic candidate, that he (Steinmetz) promised to appoint Semler a judge under a bill which passed the last Legislature. Mr. Steinmetz says further that after they had some conversation about the appointment, Mr. Semler remarked that if Gen. Steinmetz desired he could have $10,000 worth of stock in the Bruff Elevated Road without paying a cent for it. This remark, of course, closed all further communication between Gen. Steinmetz and Semler."

2 Nov. 1880       "On the city ticket, Controller Steinmetz, renominated by the Republicans, has earned the distinction of arousing William C. Kingsley's personal enmity while acting as trustee of the Brooklyn bridge. Gen. Steinmetz had one of his legs shot off during the war, and recently has suffered intense physical pain from his old wound. For this reason he has not been able to make as active a canvas as his sleek and well-fed Democratic opponent, Ludwig Semler, who has been in office for the greater part of his life. Mr. Kingsley's immense wealth and most active efforts are being used to secure the election of Semler, whom he expects to be friendly to him in bridge matters."

4 Nov. 1880       Mention that General Steinmetz was very narrowly defeated for reelection as controller of the city of Brooklyn.

2 March 1881       "Ex-controller Steinmetz is, it is said, about to be appointed Assistant Engineer of the Board of the City works."

18 March 1881       Gen. Steinmetz elected president of the Fully-disabled Veterans Association of Brooklyn.Attends a dinner of the Ancient Order of Hibernians at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

17 June 1881       Attends the commencement exercises of the Brooklyn College and Polytechnic Institute as one of Brooklyn's "best known citizens."

26 June 1881       "Ex-controller Steinmetz has resigned his position as Assistant Engineer of the Department of City Works. Yesterday was Gen. Steinmetz's forty-third birthday and the nineteenth anniversary of the day upon which one of his legs was shot off while fighting for the Union."

26 Nov. 1881       Testifies against the "Broadway Tunnel" as an expert witness.

9 Dec. 1881       "Mr. William G. Steinmetz, late Controller of Brooklyn, will deliver a lecture upon "Municipal Affairs" before the Spread the Light Club, No. 365 Fulton-street, Brooklyn, on Sunday evening. It is understood that Mr. Steinmetz will give some astonishing facts and figures relating to the management of the bridge."

16 Dec. 188117 Dec. 188119 Jan. 1882       Regarding a matter about the New York Post Office with reference to Superintendent Steinmetz.

24 Dec. 1882       Gen. Steinmetz participating in The Association of Fully Disabled Veterans of Brooklyn.

18 April 1882 2 June 1883and 6 June 1883. General Steinmetz testifies in a hearing in Washington, DC about construction fraud in the Treasury Department in Philadelphia.

27 June 1883 Regarding a matter to do with the construction of the superstructure of the Brooklyn Bridge. "Gen. Steinmetz wrote in his letter that he happened to be a member of the Board of Trustees when that "infamous contract" for steel and iron was ratified and made on July 7, 1879."

5 Nov. 1883       Letter to the editor of the New York Times from Gen. Steinmetz in defense of Mayor Low of Brooklyn
13 Feb. 1885       "The secretary of the treasury has appointed William D. [sic] Steinmetz to be assistant superintendent of construction of the Brooklyn Post Office at a compensation of [illegible] per day."

19 May 1885       "Superintendent Rutan and his assistant, General Steinmetz, examined the stone and at once pronounced it unfit for use."

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