Fallen Heroes: Private Carl Ankrim

American troops on Mindanao Island

Often times the death of a soldier in a far-off land is, unfortunately, politicized by some to support their arguments for or against a given conflict. We tend to think of this as a modern practice, but there are ample instances of it from history. The loss of this fallen hero is but one example.


Benjamin Ankrim (1810-aft. 1850) and his wife Nancy moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio in the early 1830s, settling originally in Harrison County. The couple had several children, including a son named Samuel (1837-1885) who would marry Pleasey Ann Osburn (1844-1879) in 1860 and move into Coshocton County where he worked as a stone mason. The couple would welcome one child into the household before Samuel was called off to service in the 43rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.

After returning home from the war, Samuel and Pleasey’s household expanded as more children were born to the couple including their last child in 1878, Carl Ankrim (1878-1900). Pleasey burned to death in a fire a year after Carl’s birth, but the details surrounding the fire are unrecorded. When Carl was around seven years old his father passed away, leaving him and the rest of his minor siblings orphans. Carl’s guardian applied to the Ohio Soldiers & Sailors Orphans Home in Greene County in February 1885 for Carl to be sent there.

Ohio Soldiers & Sailors Orphan’s Home, c. 1900. (Source: https://www.ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p267401coll36/id/16158)

While he applied for entrance, it is not clear whether or not Carl actually attended the Ohio Soldiers & Sailors Orphan’s Home. If he did, he would have been released from it at the age of 16, in 1894. Carl found himself living in communities of southern Tuscarawas County and eastern Coshocton County in the years immediately leading up to the Spanish-American War and the subsequent conflict known as the Philippine Insurrection.

The spring and summer of 1899 it became necessary to organize twenty new regiments of national volunteers to take the place of the state volunteers in the Philippines whose time had expired. Among those was the 31st Regiment, recruited in Ohio, organized at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. The regiment completed its organization and filled its ranks by the end of the summer of 1899. Carl Ankrim was among the men who enlisted in the regiment and was assigned to Company F.

Location of Private Ankrim’s unit on the island of Mindanao, Philippines. (Source: loc.gov)

The regiment was ordered westward to San Francisco in August 1899 where, after a brief smallpox outbreak lasting into October, it boarded transports bound for the Philippines. The regiment had a brief stopover in Hawaii, where there were complaints of the behavior of some of the men in the regiment. The regiment arrived in Manilla at the end of November 1899 and was then sent to garrison ports on the island of Mindanao. Carl Ankrim, and the rest of Company F, was stationed in the port town of Cotabato.

The 31st Regiment saw little action during its time in the Philippines and its greatest battle turned out to be with disease. When Carl Ankrim fell ill with typhoid fever is unknown, but by the late summer of 1900 he was sent to the army hospital in Manilla. Private Ankrim succumbed to his illness on August 17, 1900. It would be a year before his body was returned to the United States for burial and one local paper used his funeral as an opportunity to protest the United States’ policies in Philippines. Private Carl Ankrim was buried in the East State Street Cemetery in Newcomerstown.

Reference to Carl Ankrim’s funeral in the Uhrichsville News Democrat, 2 September 1901.

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2021.

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