A collection of material related to the
Woodbridge and Michaelis families, including Major Francis Woodbridge, Eliza K. Woodbridge,
Kate K. Michaelis, Major Otho Michaelis, and Lieutenant Frank Woodbridge.
Francis Woodbridge (1816-1855) was the scion of a prominent New England family and a West
Point graduate (Class of 1837); he began his military career in Florida during the Second
Seminole War and subsequently served in the Mexican American War, on the Niagara Frontier,
and throughout the Midwest. Francis Woodbridge met Elizabeth "Eliza" Cass Kercheval
(1821-1873) the daughter of a prominent Michigan politician, Benjamin Berry Kercheval;
Francis and Eliza married in April 1841, and together they had a daughter Catharine "Kate"
Woodbridge (1846-1926) and, a son, Francis "Frank" Woodbridge (1853-1891). The elder Francis
Woodbridge attained the rank of major for his "gallant and meritorious conduct" but died at
the age of 39, while stationed at Fort Barrancas, Florida. In December of 1868, Kate
Woodbridge married Captain Otho E. Michaelis (1843-1890) who was a German-born New Yorker
and a career soldier; he fought at the Battle of Gettysburg and ended the Civil War as a
chief of ordnance. Throughout his career he oversaw arsenals in New York, Pennsylvania,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Maine; in September 1881, he accompanied astronomer Samuel P.
Langley on his expedition to California's Mount Whitney. Michaelis was also an accomplished
chess player, ranked 25th in the world by Edo Historical Chess Ratings. Kate and Otho had
nine children, six of whom survived into adulthood. Frank Woodbridge followed in his
father's footsteps and entered the military; in the late 1860s and early 1870s, he held a
clerical job at the U.S. Department of War while working as a part-time journalist. In 1876,
he received a lieutenant's commission and was posted to Fort Shaw, Montana Territory; he
married a cousin, Alice Field (1858-1939) in 1883.
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