Henry August Groenwoldt

1872 - 1957

Spanish American War

Their Story

Henry August Groenwoldt was born on December 26, 1872, in Davenport, Iowa.1 He was the oldest of six children to Wilhelm and Anna (Boarman) Groenwoldt. His father, Wilhelm, was a union soldier during the Civil War, who passed away in 1887 when Henry was fifteen years old.2

In April of 1898, the United States declared war on Spain after the U.S. Battleship Maine exploded from a mine. Tensions between the U.S. and Spain had been rising for at least three years before the explosion; newspapers had reported Spain’s brutal response to Cuban rebels, who wanted Cuba’s independence from Spain. Americans began to sympathize with the Cuban rebels, and many called for the U.S. to intervene on Cuba’s behalf.3 Intervention was no longer a question after the sinking of the Maine in the Havana Harbor in Cuba on February 15, 1898.4

At this time, Groenwoldt had been a member of Company B, 2nd Regiment, Iowa National Guard.5 On April 24th, members of Company B mobilized at the Davenport Armory, awaiting orders for deployment.6 They soon left for Des Moines, where they received brief training, and were officially mustered into service. After being mustered into service, the Company was sent to Camp Cuba Libre in Jacksonville, Florida.7 Records indicate that Groenwoldt officially entered service on June 21, 1898.8 This could mean that he was not a part of the first wave of men to be recruited, but the second or third wave. Unfortunately, no additional records could be found on the matter. Regardless, the same record indicates he was a member of Company B, 50th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, meaning he was eventually stationed in Florida at Camp Cuba Libre.9 On August 12, 1898, the U.S. and Spain agreed to an armistice. Around a month later, the 50th Regiment was sent home to Iowa, and the war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898.10

There was a lot of controversy surrounding Camp Cuba Libre at the time of the war. Soldiers had reported that camp conditions were poor, and that the camp lacked sufficient medical services to keep the soldiers healthy. In late September, an Iowa newspaper reported that a special commission had been dispatched to the camp to evaluate the conditions. The 50th Regiment had already arrived in Des Moines, but the 49th Regiment was still at the camp during this time. The commission found that camp conditions were satisfactory in terms of medical care, food, and other supplies. A colonel with the 50th Regiment disputed the report, stating that the men did not receive the medical care needed, and that the camp was “unhealthful.”11

Groenwoldt never ended up seeing combat, nor did his regiment; however, the men at Camp Cuba Libre did have to fight against numerous serious diseases that plagued their camp. Numerous men died from severe illnesses such as typhoid fever and malaria.12

In March of 1904, Groenwoldt married Paula Peters at her home. In the early twentieth century, while living in Davenport, Groenwoldt was employed as a laborer at French & Hecht, Inc.13 French & Hecht was a large company that manufactured agricultural implements, such as tractors, combine harvesters, and trailers.14

On October 2, 1957, Henry August Groenwoldt passed away at Mercy Hospital, Davenport Iowa at the age of 84. He had been ill for five months before his death and was survived by his wife, three sons, and five daughters.15


1“Henry Groenwoldt,” Quad City Times, Davenport, Iowa, 3 October 1957, p.10, 03 Oct 1957, 10 – Quad-City Times at Newspapers.com

2“Wilhelm Gruenwald,” Ancestry, n.d., Wilhelm Gruenwald – Facts (ancestry.com)

3History.com Editors, “Spanish-American War,” 26 May 2022, Spanish-American War: Causes, Battles & Timeline – HISTORY, accessed July 23 2022.

4“The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War,” Library of Congress, 22 June 2011, Introduction – The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War (Hispanic Division, Library of Congress) (loc.gov), accessed 15 August 2022.

5“H.A. Groenwoldt Dies; 3 Spanish War Vets Left,” The Daily Times.

6“Remember the Maine,” Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa, 8 October 1955, p.33, 08 Oct 1955, Page 33 – Quad-City Times at Newspapers.com

7Patrick McSherry, “A Brief History of the 50th Iowa Volunteer Infantry,” n.d., 50st Iowa Volunteer Infantry History (spanamwar.com) accessed 22 July 2022.

8“Henry Groenwoldt in the U.S., National Cemetery Internment Control Forms, 1928-1962,” Ancestry, n.d., U.S., National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962 – Ancestry.com

9“Henry Groenwoldt in the U.S., National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962,” Ancestry.

10Patrick McSherry, “A Brief History of the 50th Iowa Volunteer Infantry.”

11“Report Disputed,” Muscatine News-Tribune, Muscatine, Iowa, 21 September 1898, p.3, 21 Sep 1898, 3 – Muscatine News-Tribune at Newspapers.com

12“Remember the Maine,” Quad-City Times.

13“Groenwoldt, Henry August: WWI Draft Registration Cards,” Fold3, n.d, Page 1 WWI Draft Registration Cards – Fold3

14“French & Hecht Plant Recognized As Largest Exclusive Makers of Steel Wheels; Employs 1,000 Men,” Quad City Times, Davenport, Iowa, 26 October 1930, p.160, 26 Oct 1930, 160 – Quad-City Times at Newspapers.com

15“Davenport Deaths,” The Rock Island Argus, Rock Island, Illinois, 2 October 1957, p.27, 02 Oct 1957, 27 – The Rock Island Argus at Newspapers.com