Unknown Stories: WNYer At Center of Civil War Mystery?

4:48 PM, Mar 9, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - When the USS Monitor succumbed to storm waters off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina December 31, 1862, she took with her 16 men, including a Buffalonian.

In 2002, the turret of the legendary ironclad was pulled from the ocean floor, along with a mystery. There were the remains of two sailors still intact. Over the past decade, researchers have worked feverishly to try and determine the identity of these unknown sailors.

Computer facial reconstructions were completed, providing images of how this pair of heroes may have looked in life. One of them bears a striking resemblance to the Buffalonian who went down with the ship.

Jacob Nicklis was a 21 year old seaman from Buffalo. He was the son of German immigrants. Among the artifacts preserved were letters sent home from Nicklis to his father, along with the letter sent by the ship's surgeon, informing Jacob's sister that he had died aboard the Monitor. 

There is other evidence of the Buffalo connection. One of the skeletons was wearing a ring on his right hand. A photo of Nicklis shows him wearing a ring on the same finger. A spoon recovered near the remains was engraved J.N. Jacob was the only crew member with those intitials.

DNA testing is being conducted and one great niece living now in California, told Fox News that researchers said there was a 50% chance that Jacob Nicklis is one of the unknowns.

As this mystery continues, this pair of Civil War heroes are now finally laid to rest. They were interred with full military honors today at Arlington National Cemetary.

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