John Muster Genealogy
6/22/1830 - 10/16/1887

John Muster was a private in Company I of the 20th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. October 1, 1861, Confederate forces seized the steamer Fanny and those onboard in North Carolina. John Muster, who listed his nationality and residence as Switzerland, spent time in Confederate prisons until the end of the war. In 1866, he settled in Valparaiso, Indiana, and married his wife Barbara. John Muster died young, and his widow outlived him by forty-three years. The Musters had eleven children and thirteen grandchildren. The youngest grandchild, born in 1926, was Bill Muster, my father.

In the mid-2000s, I found the names of my ancestors John and Barbara Muster when a relative sent me Barbara Muster's obituaries. A little later, through, I found out that John Muster fought in the Civil War. Finally, the story came alive when historical researcher Lee Oxford contacted me in about 2010. He was researching his book, and told me of John Muster's capture on the Outer Banks. Many men died in the Civil War, and the suffering of prisoners was notorious. However, I am grateful that John Muster lived through it and had all the children. If not for that, none of us Musters would be here.

Lee Oxford's book is now available on The Civil War on Hatteras: The Chicamacomico Affair and the Capture of the US Gunboat Fanny, new in May 2013. After the South captured the Fanny, they used it to patrol that area for the rest of the war, so it was a big loss for the North.

Directly following the book's release, I met Daniel Swacina, whose wife is a descendant of John Muster, and Jean Renfro, another descendant. Jean is a genealogist who is gathering family information. Jean gave us this obituary for John Muster.


Dan Swacina said: I recently received a copy of my wife's Great-Great Grandfather's obituary (John Muster) from another family member and discovered that he was a Private in Co. I 20th Ind. Vol. Inf., and was captured on the Fanny, and was later paroled. Just 91 days after his parole from Libby Prison he enlisted again on August 15, 1862 as a Corporal in Company I, 5th Cavalry, 90th Indiana Regiment. He was captured again when his unit failed in their attempt to rescue the prisoners being held at Andersonville, and ended up a prisoner there himself along with a number of other members of his unit and transferred a couple of times until the end of the war.


Editor's note: Jeanne Miller* sent me these obituaries and other clippings concerning the death of John Muster's wife, Barbara Muster, October 10, 1931.







Also one concerning her son, George Howser:


Genealogical information:
Barbara (Murtin or Burkhart) Muster - b. 7/27/1848 in Baden, France. It was sometimes part of Germany, but when she was born it was the Kingdom of France. She came to America in 1852 (according to at four years old; obituary above says nine years old), d. 10/10/1931 Valparasio, Indiana.
I believe Barbara's maiden name was Murtin because that's what I found in documents at The source of the name Burkhart was the newspaper obituary, which easily could have been wrong. Like, her mother could have been remarried, or the reporter could have been misinformed.

John Muster - b. 6/22/1830 in Switzerland, d. 10/16/1887 in Valparasio, Indiana
John and Barbara were married in 1866, had eleven children and numerous grandchildren. See below for more details.*

Children of John and Barbara Muster:
William Muster (March 1868 - Jan. 1926)
Albert R. Muster
Alberta Muster
[still searching for the names of all the children]

Grandchildren present at Barbara Muster's funeral:
Bruce Stansell
Mason Muster
DeForest Muster
George Howser, Jr.
John Muster
Emmett Muster
Helen Fitzgerald
Leota Daniels
Florence Martin
Alberta Harding*
Barbara Alice Muster
Margaret Muster
Grandson not present: Bill Muster, then five years old, living in Chicago with his mother Emma Moldenhauer Muster, and older half-brother, Ed Miller.*

G-grand Children
Grandchildren of William Muster Sr.: Nori Muster (1956), Bill Muster (1958)
Grandchildren of Albert Muster: John Scott Harding (1938), Robert Brooks Harding (1942) , and Paul (1944, lived only a few months)
[still searching for names of more great-grandchildren]

Kathy Swacina
Audrey Jean Muster Renfro [still searching for full list of g-g-grandchildren]

John and Barbara Muster had all their children in Valparasio, Indiana. If you are related to John Muster, please contact me, Nori (contact info. - click here), to share genealogy information.

Screen shot 2013-04-26 at 8.31.24 AM

The Civil War on Hatteras: The Chicamacomico Affair and the Capture of the US Gunboat Fanny, by Lee Thomas Oxford
Exciting new book about an early battle in the Civil War that took my great-grandfather, John Muster, as a prisoner of war(!) Click the book cover to buy it at Amazon, or click here to buy it directly from the publisher.

Barbara Murtin Muster - new info.
based on g-granddaughter's Ancestry DNA

by Nori Muster

In 2018 I did my Ancestry DNA and discovered 9% of my genes may trace back to Barbara Murtin Muster. Possibly more, but being familiar with my family tree, I sorted out all the DNA and found Barbara is probably the source of my 9% Mediterranean genes. Ancestry told me I have 4% Iberian, 4% Southern European, and 1% Eastern European. None of my other ancestors come from this area. It is most likely Barbara had at least one ancestor from the Mediterranean, probably her father. Murtin, her maiden name, has roots in these areas. She was born Baden, in the Kingdom of France. This area of France later became part of Germany, but is now in France again. France is near Spain, one of the countries on the Mediterranean Sea.

I would like to discuss this with any other descendants of John and Barbara Muster who have done their DNA, and find out whether you also found a few Mediterranean genes along with your John Muster Swiss genes.*

Here's some math regarding the life of Barbara Murtin Muster and John Muster - buckle your seatbelts. They married in 1866, just months after John Muster came home a hero from the Civil War. Barbara turned eighteen and John turned thirty-six in 1966; he was eighteen years older than her. After getting married, they had their first child, my grandfather William Muster, in 1868. After that they had ten more children over less than nineteen years - John died in 1987. Thus, they had a child every year-and-half or two years. She died in 1931, outliving John by forty-four years. Thus, she mostly raised her children as a single mother. She seems to have done okay, living in the same house her entire life after coming to America at age four or nine.

Alberta Muster Harding Branch

More about the Alberta Muster branch of the family, details supplied by Dan Swacina.

On May 31, 2013, at 4:58 PM, D.S. wrote:

Alberta Muster married Ross Harding 31 July 1926 in Valparaiso. Alberta was born 2 July 1905 in Valparaiso and died there on 20 Oct 1967. Her Husband, J.E. (as I knew him) was born in Fort Wayne, IN on 6 Nov 1899 and died in Valparaiso 7 Jan 1990. He went by several first names, Ross, Ross Errol, Roswell, J.E., and Jack and I have seen "official" documents with all of those names on them, but no birth certificate that would solve what his first name ACTUALLY was. Alberta Muster was the 3rd of 10 children born to Albert R. Muster (May 1873?) and Margaret A. Mason (May 1875?). They were married about 1892. Alberta & J.E. had three boys, John Scott Harding (Kathy's dad) born Sep 1938, Robert Brooks Harding born in 1942 , and Paul born in 1944 (who died within a few months of his birth).

John married Antonia DeGrazia (Toni) in Valparaiso 15 Jun 1957. Toni was also born in Valparaiso in 1938. Kathy was born in Cambridge, MA in Mar. 1958 while John was attending Harvard. He graduated from Harvard and attended medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago. He then served as a flight surgeon in the Air Force. His first assignment was in San Antonio, TX, where Kathy's brother Scott Anthony Harding was born.

On Aug 2, 2013, at 4:30 PM, D.S. wrote:

Albert Muster (son of the Civil War John Muster) had the following kids (room for correction, Jean Renfro has the best info):

Helen D. Muster b: abt.1899
Alberta Muster b: 2 Jul 1905 (this is my wife's grandmother)
George Mason Muster b: abt.1907
Margaret Muster b: abt.1909
John R. Muster b: abt.1911
Robert A. Muster b: abt.1913
James R. Muster b: abt. 1913 twins?
Barbara Muster b: abt.1915
Mary Estelle Muster b: abt.1920

Statement by Nori Muster

My great-grandfather John Muster fought in the Civil War for the Indiana Volunteers. He only lived to be fifty-seven. The last line of his obituary says: "His warfare is over, his suffering is ended, and he is united with that great grand army that knows not any parting - he is waiting and watching for the coming of his comrades."

John and Barbara Muster married after the war and had eleven children. My grandfather, William N. Muster, was their first born. He also died at age fifty-seven. My father, William N. Muster, was born in 1926, just after William Sr. died. They never called my father William Jr. because his father was dead. In his lifetime, my father probably never knew his grandfather fought in the Civil War.

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