St. Charles History

The history of our past and the events of today

Granville Abbington of the U.S. 56th Colored Troops

In the early 1830s, Henry Abington, born in Henry County, Virginia in 1767, moved west to Missouri. The U.S. financial status had caused many of the old plantation owners to look west, to the new territory, the young state and its plentiful lands. He and his wife, the former Elizabeth Johnson brought their huge clan, including their sons Henry (1793-1851) and William (1794-1840). The family were large slave owners, and would fight, steal and bicker over them in the St. Charles County courts for years. They left a large amount of records that tell a story that has helped provide the U.S. 56th Colored Troops a monument in Jefferson Barracks nearly two hundred years later..

Before dying in October 1840, Henry’s oldest son William had married Francis Shelton and had two sons William and Samuel  who would inherit their father’s fifteen slaves brought from Virginia. In addition to the slaves they inherited from their father, came also their share of inheritance of slaves from Grandpa Henry when he died in 1844. One of those Abington family slaves William Abbington married Louise Allen in 1866, in which those St. Charles County Colored Marriage Record Book list their son Granville Abbington. Granville is an ancestor to a George Abbington.

Granville Abbington was a member of the U.S. 56th Colored Troops (Union). In St. Louis in August of 1863, the 3rd Regiment Arkansas Volunteer Infantry was assigned to the Union Army, then dispatched to Helena, Arkanasas where it was re-organized as the 56th United States Colored Infantry, commanded by a German, Col. Carl Bentozoni. He trained the troops for combat, which they saw July 29, 1864.

The enemy were concealed in the thick timber and were within 150 yards of us before I opened on them, when they charged with a yell, but being well supported by Captain Brown, of the Sixtieth, with sixteen men, and Captain Patten, of the Fifty-sixth, with twenty-five men, and using canister rapidly and carefully, we repulsed them….During the whole fight the colored men stood up to their duty like veterans, and it was owing to their strong arms and cool heads, backed by fearless daring, alone that I was able to get away either of my guns. They marched eighteen miles at once, fought five hours, against three to one, and were as eager at the end as at the beginning for the fight. Never did men, under such circumstances, show greater pluck or daring.I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,H. T. CHAPPEL,First Lieutenant.

(Ref.Christ, Mark, “Re: Battles of Helena and Jenkins Ferry”, Arkansas in the Civil War Message Board, Posted 7/25/2006, Accessed 24 May 2015;id=13202)

(The unit’s connections with Napoleon Bonaparte Buford, half-brother of Union cavalry leader and Gettysburg hero John Buford, began in 1864. The unit was one of 14 that Buford commanded in Eastern Arkansas.)

The 56th Colored Regiment losses during service consisted of four officers and 21 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded; and two officers and 647 enlisted men by disease; for a total of 674 fatalities.The vast majority of the deaths due to disease occurred during a cholera epidemic that struck in August 1866. The unit was mustered out of the service on September 15, 1866, and the 56th was traveling aboard 2 steamers to be mustered out. During the trip several soldiers died of an undiagnosed illness. A surgeon inspected the men and reported no cholera among them. The men arrived in St. Louis at night and were kept onboard until the next morning, rather than being allowed to roam the town. The next morning, it was clear that the 56th Regiment had cholera. Ordered back to Quarantine Station, the unit lost 178 enlisted men and one officer in the next few weeks. Granville Abbington was one of those soldiers.

A monument to the 56th Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops honoring the memory of the 175 soldiers of

Monument naming the U.S. 56th Colored Troops buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

Monument naming the U.S. 56th Colored Troops buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

the 56th USCT who died of cholera was placed on Quarantine Island where the soldiers had been held. In 1939 the monument and the remains were removed from “Quarantine Station, Missouri” by authority of the War Department, to the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. From 1939 to August 2014 that obelisk marked the grave of Granville Abbington, as one of those “unknown” soldiers.

George Abbington at the grave of his family ancestor Granville Abbington.

George Abbington at the grave of his family ancestor Granville Abbington.

However, the St. Louis African American Genealogical Society was determined to change this, lobbying, and writing, they wanted a monument to list these brave soldiers, listing their names. The U.S. Government would grant this if they could produce proof and a descendant of one of those soldiers known to have died due to the Cholera.

Enter George Abbington, who had gone in search of his grandparents, all four of which were born into slavery and who had lived in St. Charles County. George Abbington’s search into his families past provided enough documentation that in 2014, a new and long overdue monument was placed with the names of the soldiers of the 56th upon the grave formerly marked as “unknown”.  And Granville Abbington would finally receive his own memorial headstone.










German Heritage Along the Missouri River

BUS TOUR        Join us for a tour of  GERMAN HERITAGE ALONG THE MISSOURI RIVER! On Saturday, August 2, 2014 spend a day with friends visiting historic German sites that share the early German heritage of Missouri! Air Conditioned buses will depart St. Charles at 9 am and visit the only State Historic Park devoted to German heritage, Deutschheim State Historic Site in Hermann, Missouri. With guided tours of two historic houses, we experience the daily life and traditions of German immigrants to Missouri as it was in the mid-19th century. In 1836, the German Setttlement Society of Philadelphia was formed to create Deutschheim (German Home), a place where German immigrants could live much as they had in the old country with the freedom to practice their own German traditions and language. We will tour the Pommer-Gentner House, and the Strehly House where Carl Strehly and his partner Eduard Muehl published the German newspaper Der Lichtefreund. 256px-Deutschheim_HSS_20140126-2

images-3Next, we will visit Dutzow, near where author Gottfried Duden lived and wrote his famous book A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America which brought thousands of Germans to Missouri in the 1830s, including the Berlin Society and the Giessen Emigration Society. Here we will have a delicious catered box lunch, and enjoy Blumenhoff Winery in the heart of wine country. After lunch, we will continue to enjoy the first American Viticultural Area – the Missouri Weinstrasse – with a wine tasting at the Munch family winery, Mt. Pleasant in Augusta, Missouri. Throughout the tour historian Dorris Keeven-Franke will share the story of Missouri’s earliest German emigration, on the bus, with the tour ending back in St. Charles at 5pm.

Tickets are only $45 and include all admissions and lunch! To purchase each ticket call 636-465-3842 or contact us with the form below. The bus tour is sponsored by the St. Charles German Heritage Club! smallscghlogo




Celebrate National Trails Day by Stepping Back to 1820…

The Journey begins at the First Missouri State Capitol, and instead of covered wagons, modern day travelers will be transported through time by bus, and travel the first 20 miles of the original Boone’s Lick Trail. It will leave the original route and follow the spur to the historic Boone home, where they will experience frontier life through period demonstrations, hands on activities, early 1800s meal served in an early log cabin, and tour the original Boone home. 

Event partners are Boone’s Lick Road Association

City of Cottleville

Missouri State Parks

The Historic Daniel Boone Home & Heritage Center

For more information or to register call 636-940-3322

or  email

Participants must register ($75) in advance as space is limited.




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