Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Robert McClelland, Miner of Tremont – Died at Beaufort, South Carolina, 1862

Posted By on January 20, 2017


On 19 August 1861, Robert McClelland, age 32, enrolled in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, at Tremont, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  At the time, he was a coal miner whose residence was Tremont.  Other sources note that he was married and had five living children when he enrolled, the youngest, Eleanor McClelland, just born less than a month earlier, 28 July 1861.  On 9 September 1861 he was was mustered into the company as a Private.  He probably knew personally many of his fellow soldiers, because this regiment was heavily composed of men who lived and worked along the route from Lykens Township, in Dauphin County, to Tremont – and many of this company were fellow miners.

The information on the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index Card (above from the Pennsylvania Archives) does not include where and when Robert McClelland died – but does indicate that he died of wounds received in action.   Recently, information about his death was made public on Fold3 with the publication of a Minors’ Pension File.

On 11 July 1868, Ellen Grayston, widow of Robert McClelland, who had since remarried to Robert Grayston at Pottsville, 4 November 1865, applied for pension benefits for minor children of her deceased husband.   Since she had legally re-married, she was not eligible for benefits for herself.   On one of the opening pages of that application, the following was stated:


Robert McClelland died at Beaufort, South Carolina, on the first day of June, A.D. 1862 in consequence of wounds received in the battle of Pocatallago, South Carolina, 29 May 1862.

In order to prove that her children were the children of Robert McClelland, Ellen had to provide evidence that she had been legally married to him, and that the children were recognized as his at the time of their birth.  She also had to provide evidence of her second marriage.  This information included more about her – including that she was Ellen Burke before marriage, and that she had been born in Ireland 37 years prior to the application, or about 1831.

The testimony Ellen provided was not only from residents of Tremont, Wiconisco, and Pine Grove, but also, she had the complicated issue of proving the birth of her eldest child, Agnes McClelland, who was born in the Parish of Gowan, County of Lanark, Scotland, on or about 16 October 1849.  Letters had to be written to Scotland seeking documents that proved the marriage and birth, which were eventually provided from Glasgow.  Although Agnes was nearly twenty years old at the time of the pension application, she would have been eligible for retroactive benefits from the time of her father’s death in 1862 to her 16th birthday (which occurred prior to the pension application).  Fortunately for Ellen Grayston, she had the strong support of her attorneys as well of two residents of Tremont, namely Ann Gammell and Edward Rumberger, who provided significant legal support for her claim of benefits for her children.

The 48-page pension application file, as previously stated, is now available on-line through Fold3.  For those interested in obtaining a copy of the file, a subscription to Fold3 is required (for those without a personal subscription, check your local library).

While further research needs to be done on Robert McClelland who was a resident of Tremont at the time he joined the war effort, the time and place of his death have now been discovered.   Anyone who has further information about this soldier and/or his family is asked to provide it by adding a comment to this blog post.

Best of 2016 – Sarah Klinger – Civil War Widow Bludgeoned to Death in 1906

Posted By on January 18, 2017

Through the pages of newspapers of the time, this horrendous murder story will be told.  Sarah Ann [Reed] Klinger, a widow of a Civil War veteran and a pensioner, was brutally murdered in her home near Shamokin, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, on 21 November 1906.

Jacob Klinger was born on 3 April 1843 in Lower Mahantongo Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  During the Civil War, he served in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company D, as a Private, from 27 October 1862 through 1 August 1863.  Jacob Klinger died in early 1899. He had been collecting a pension, which, after his death, Sarah applied for and was receiving at the time of her murder.

Sarah Klinger – Civil War Widow Bludgeoned to Death in 1906 (Part 1)

Sarah Klinger – Civil War Widow Bludgeoned to Death in 1906 (Part 2)

Sarah Klinger – Civil War Widow Bludgeoned to Death in 1906 (Part 3)

Sarah Klinger – Civil War Widow Bludgeoned to Death in 1906 (Part 4)

Sarah Klinger – Civil War Widow Bludgeoned to Death in 1906 (Part 5)

Sarah Klinger – Civil War Widow Bludgeoned to Death in 1906 (Part 6)

Who Was John McCurtin Who Enrolled at Berrysburg then Deserted in Indiana?

Posted By on January 16, 2017


The Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card for John McCurtin (shown above from the Pennsylvania Archives), indicates that a 45 year old John McCurtin, enlisted at Berrysburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania on 25 September 1861, in the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Company B.  At the time, he indicated that he resided in Dauphin County and was a stone cutter by occupation.  He stood 5 foot 9 inches tall, had dark hair, dark complexion, and hazel eyes. The card notes no date of discharge.  Instead, John McCurtin was recorded as “Deserted January 1862 Jeffersonville, Indiana.”

What is known about him prior to the war is that he was a stone cutter living in Mifflin Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in both the 1850 and 1860 censuses.  He was also found as head of household in the same place in the 1840 census.  His birth year, based on the various records, was as early as 1810 and as late as 1816.

In 1860, John’s household consisted of his wife Hannah, and six children:  Henry McCurtin, age 18; Mary McCurtin, age 16; Milvena McCurtin, age 13; Hannah McCurtin, age 11; Sarah McCurtin, age 6; and Matilda McCurtin, age 3.

Based on the information in the 1860 Census, and on John McCurtin‘s occupation of stone cutter, the family was located in Mifflingburg, Union County Pennsylvania, in the 1870 Census:


In that John McCurtin was alive and working in 1870, the question is open as to why he was recorded as deserted in 1862 and whether that had any consequence for him.

Returning to the Census of 1860, it must be mentioned that Henry McCurtin, son of John McCurtin, was also a Civil War soldier – who also served in the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Company B, beginning as a Private and concluding his service as a Corporal at discharge.  Henry McCurtin also appears on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument.

At this point in the research on John McCurtain, it is not known what happened to him or to his wife Hannah.  They have not been located in the 1880 Census.

As for the son, Henry McCurtin, he is in the 1870 Census for Washington Township, Dauphin County, where he is enumerated in the household of John N. Huffman, a tavern keeper. Henry’s occupation is laborer.  There is a Mary McCurtin, in that household, named just under Henry in the listing and two years younger, who might be Henry’s wife.  As of this writing, Henry McCurtin has not been located in any census beyond 1870 nor has he been found in the pension records.


The military record of Henry N. McCurtin notes that he enrolled in the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry at Berrysburg on 16 November 1861, more than a month after his father enrolled.  He also was mustered into service the same day as he enrolled, again, more than a month after his father was mustered into the same regiment.   Ar the time of Henry’s joining, he gave his occupation as a coach painter, and his birthplace and residence as Dauphin County.  He said his age was 20, but he was actually a bit younger, he stood 5 foot 5 inches tall, had dark hair, dark complexion, and hazel eyes.  On 1 January 1864, he re-enlisted, as did many of his comrades, at Mossy Creek, Tennessee, and with that enlistment came a promotion to the rank of Corporal.  What might be possible, although not confirmed by any military records, was that Henry joined to replace his father, and that replacement was not recorded on any of the records thus far seen.  John’s desertion date of January 1862, may not have been a desertion, but may have been incorrectly reported as such.  Further research may confirm this theory.

Any information on what happened to either of these two men would be appreciated!  Please add as comments to this post.





Who Was John McDermot – On Lykens Monument?

Posted By on January 13, 2017


The name Owen McDermot appears on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument as an area veteran who was not a member of the Heilner G.A.R. Post.  Who was he?


The only person of that name who was found in the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Card File was Owen McDermott, who at 18 years old, enrolled in the 136th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, as a Private on 10 August 1862, at Duncan’s Island, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  He was mustered into service on 23 August 1862 at Harrisburg.  His discharge occurred on 29 May 1863, when he was mustered out.


That same Owen McDermott applied for a pension on 18 August 1891, which he received.  After he died, widow applied on 27 February 1896, and she received benefits.  The information on the Fold3 version of the Pension Index Card does not include Owen’s date of death.


The information of the Ancestry.com version of the Pension Index Card, includes the widow’s name of Mary.  It also shows that both pension applications were made from Pennsylvania.

Presuming that Owen McDermott was alive in 1890 when the Veterans’ Census was taken, a search was made to see where he was living.  However, no matching person was found.

No other information has been located on any person named Owen McDermott who could be the one named on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument.  So, who is Owen McDermott?





Women and the Civil War (Part 13)

Posted By on January 11, 2017

Women and the Civil War” is an exhibit of photographs and stories of women who had family connections with soldiers of that war.  It was first displayed at the Gratz Fair in September 2013, where it received “first place” in a non-profit division.  Afterward, it was displayed in 2014 at the Williamtown-Williams Township Historical Society; in 2015 at the Pillow Historical Society; and in 2016 at the Elizabethville Area Historical Society.  With the “retiring” of the actual exhibit, the photographs and stories are now presented here on The Civil War Blog in a thirteen part series.

For each of the thirteen series parts, one woman is featured first along with a brief description of her connection to a Civil War soldier.  For the other women who are pictured in each part, a brief story is not provided, but blog readers are invited to add their own stories as comments to the blog post.  In some cases, the women or the soldiers have been previously featured on this blog and links are provided to those posts.


Portraits and Stories.  This portrait gallery is of women from the Lykens Valley and beyond who were influenced by or had an influence on the Civil War.  It includes mothers, wives and daughters of men of the Civil War generation.  A few of their stories have been briefly told here [in the exhibit].  As part of the Civil War Research Project, photographs and stories of these remarkable women are being collected and preserved for future generations.  Over time, much of this history has been lost because it has not been recorded and saved.  For the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, it has been a priority to collect, record and preserve this valuable part of our heritage.


keiserhenry-wifesallie-portrait-450Sallie [Workman] Keiser

wife of

Henry Keiser

THE WAR BRIDE.  During the war, “Miss Sallie” corresponded regularly with Henry Keiser who was born in Gratz.  After he re-enlisted in 1864, and while he was home of furlough, she became a war-time bride in Harrisburg.  After the war the couple settled in Lykens.  They both were active in the G.A.R.

endersisaiaht-wifemary-portrait-450-001Mary Ellen [Bowman] Enders

wife of

Isaiah T. Enders

lehmanjacobb-wifeamanda-portrait-450Amanda [Buffington] Lehman

wife of

Jacob B. Lehman

helmbenjaminhardin-wifeemilie-portrait-452Emilie [Todd] Helm

wife of

Benjamin Hardin Helm

welkerbenjamin-daumaggie-portrait-450Maggie Welker

daughter of

Benjamin Welker

sheetzpeter-dauvirgie-portrait-450Vergie [Sheetz] Acker

daughter of

Peter Sheetz

kembelisaac-daulydia-portrait-450Lydia Kembel

daughter of

Isaac Kembel

smithclarkmoulton-wifeann-portrait-450Ann Marie [Todd] Smith

wife of

Clark Moulton Smith

klingerisrael-dauelizabeth-portrait-450-001Lizzie [Klinger] Maurer

daughter of

Israel Klinger

keiperjohn-nievelina-portrait-450Lina Keiper

niece of

John Keiper Jr.

stroupjoseph-wifeeiiza-portrait-450Eliza [Music] Stroup

wife of

Joseph Stroup

All currently posted parts of this series may be accessed by clicking on Women&CivilWar.  Photographs are scaled for printing on 4 x 6 photo paper without further adjustment.