PRIME TIME: Civil War prisoner returned to family furniture company

Published on Sunday, 21 May 2017 22:13
Written by Bob Montgomery

Staff Writer

The following biography of Mr. Funk comes from the “Builders of Bristol” series, one which began here during our nation’s bicentennial in 1976 and since updated through the years by family members and local history-minded individuals:

Andersonville, Ga., was not a pleasant place in the early 1960s during the Civil War. Between 1863 and 1865 over 19,000 Union soldiers, prisoners of war, were housed there on 26 acres in open air camps. More than 13,000 never made it out. Among those who endured the horrors of Andersonville was a German immigrant from Bristol who answered the call to arms in 1862 and fought bravely at places like Antietam, Fredericksburg, Newport News and the Virginia Peninsula.

For Augustus Funck, the war ended at Plymouth, N.C. where he, along with more than 400 other men from Connecticut’s 16th Regiment, were captured and sent off to prisons throughout the South. Funck was among the unlucky, being sent to Andersonville, reportedly the worst of the lot.

He was released from prison in an exchange before the end of the war and returned home to eventually join his father at the head of one of Bristol’s biggest retail outlets.

Augustus Funck was born in Neuhaus, Hanover, Germany on July 22, 1836, son of Christian and Johanna Funck. He came to the United States with his parents at the age of 10 in 1846 and to Bristol three years later.

He enrolled in school in this country during the winter months and worked summers on the farm of Lockwood Tuttle in Burlington. From his father he learned the skills of carpentry and cabinet making and in 1851 took a job with the Brewster and Ingraham Clock Company.

In 1855 he followed his brother William to Minnesota and worked with him as a carpenter for five years. He returned to Bristol in the fall of 1860 and continued in the carpentry trade with Edward Hill until he answered the call to arms on his 26th birthday, July 22, 1862.

In February of 1865 he was exchanged and sent to a convalescent camp. There he caught typhoid and was confined to a hospital in Baltimore until granted a furlough home in early April. Before his furlough expired, General Lee surrendered and Funck earned his honorable discharge.

The horrors of Andersonville weighed heavily on him and he spent several months of rest and recuperation before entering into the furniture and undertaking business with his father. The firm incorporated as C. Funck and Son.

The firm, which started at Doolittle’s Corner, soon moved to Elm Street and then to the Town Hall where it remained until 1889. During this period both the furniture and undertaking business flourished and Augustus Funck grew into one of the pillars of the community.

In 1871 Augustus was appointed the keeper of the Forestville jail, a position he held for several years. He was an active member of the Masons and the G.W. Thompson Post 13, GAR and played an active role in the Trinity Episcopal Church.

In 1889 the Funck firm moved out of Town Hall and into the newly-constructed building at Main and elm Streets and a year later occupied his handsome new four-story building, at the time one of Bristol’s largest retail structures, on Prospect Street. Shortly before his death in 1911, he instituted a legal name change, the dropping of the letter “c” from the family and firm name.

Write to Bob Montgomery, â„… The Bristol Press, 188 Main St., Bristol, CT 06010. Call 860-973-1808, or email: bmontgomery@bristolpress.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, General News on Sunday, 21 May 2017 22:13. Updated: Sunday, 21 May 2017 22:16.