Frederick Fraske

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Frederick W. Fraske
Born (1872-03-08)March 8, 1872
Posen, Prussia
Died June 18, 1973(1973-06-18) (aged 101)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Buried at Niles, Illinois, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1894-97
Rank Private
Unit 17th U. S. Infantry
Battles/wars Indian Wars

Frederick (Fredrak) W. Fraske (March 8, 1872 – June 18, 1973) was the last surviving veteran of the Indian Wars.

Biography[edit]

Fraske was an ethnic German born in the city of Posen, which was at that time in the Province of Posen and part of the Kingdom of Prussia. As a young child in 1877, he migrated to the United States with his family, including his parents and four brothers. At the age of 21, on February 22, 1894, in Chicago, which was his home town, he enlisted in the U.S. Army to help his widowed mother support her family of seven. He was assigned to Fort D.A. Russell, which was near Cheyenne, Wyoming, serving as a private with company F of the 17th infantry as a first aid man and letter carrier. He spoke about Cheyenne of that time as a quiet but wild town, where cattle were unloaded, and the residents were a tough breed.

His starting pay in the Army was the standard $9 a month, and then it increased $1 each year. The time that he was in the service was spent preparing for confrontation at the fort, which never occurred. Fraske commented on the fact that he was glad that he never fired a shot in battle with American Indians, and didn't feel any ill will towards them either, and he felt he understood their difficult time. He never personally had other than peaceful encounters with them.

In that era, the Army allowed a soldier to be discharged after three years and three months of service instead of serving the full five years, if requested by a soldier with excellent character, and so Fraske took advantage of that law and left the Army in 1897, at the age of 25.

After his service ended, he returned to Chicago and worked as a building painter for nearly 40 years, at which time the union forced his retirement from painting, because they didn't allow anyone over 65 years of age to climb scaffolds. He continued working as a security guard for the Salerno-McGowan Biscuit company for the next 23 years, and then retired at age 88. At the time of his death at age 101, he was living with his daughter Lillian in Chicago, and was receiving part-time nursing assistance from the Veterans Administration. He was buried in Niles, Illinois.

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