Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Samuel Miller, Emergency Man & the Fire That Destroyed His General Store

Posted By on March 1, 2017

Samuel Miller‘s name appears on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument as a man who served in the Civil War at the rank of Sergeant, but was not a member of the Heilner Post at that place.

Samuel Miller was born in 1833 in Pennsylvania. During the Civil War, he served in the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1863), Company D, as a Private, enrolling at Lykens, Dauphin County, on 15 June 1863.  H was mustered into service four days later, and three days after that he was appointed Sergeant of the company.  This emergency militia regiment is credited with service at Gettysburg, and the name of Samuel Miller appears on the Pennsylvania Memorial.

Samuel Miller was discharged on 30 July 1863 at the end of the emergency.

The only personal information about him in the military record was his age.  He claimed to be 29.

No other military service was located for this Samuel Miller.

In both 1880 and 1900, Samuel Miller lived in Wiconisco, and gave his occupation as merchant, general store.

According to information on Findagrave, Samuel Miller died in 1904 and is buried at the Calvary United Methodist Church Cemetery, Wiconisco, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  However, at this writing, nothing is mentioned on the Findagrave Memorial about his Civil War service.

In searching for his obituary in the Harrisburg newspapers, the following was found in the 28 September 1904 issue of the Harrisburg Patriot:



Fire Raging in Business Centre Wiped Out Factory, Stores and Dwellings

Harrisburg Was Asked for Assistance


Special Despatch to The Patriot

Lykens, 28 September 1904, 2 a.m. – A fire which is still raging has up to this time destroyed thirteen buildings on the busiest portion of Pottsville Street, Wiconisco‘s most important thoroughfare, and eight barns and stables at the rear of the buildings.

Among the structures destroyed the most important are:  Shaeffer’s hosiery mill, where the flames started; general store of the Samuel Miller estate; general store of Kimmel & Company; the Abraham Dreibilias block of flats and store rooms; a row of dwellings of Mrs. Margaret Mowrey; and other individual dwellings and store buildings.

The total loss to the present time is roughly estimate at $100,000.  The flames are now being combatted on the south side of the street to prevent their taking hold of Henry Tontius‘ large hotel.

Four fire companies, one each from Wiconisco, Lykens, Williamstown and Tower City, are battling with the flames and unless the wind, which is now blowing back over the burned district, shifts again, the firemen think that they can prevent further spread.

There are no steam fire engines on the scene.

Word has been sent to the Mayor of Harrisburg asking for assistance and he has replied that one steam fire engine and a hose carriage have been placed on a flat car.  He was asked to hold them in Harrisburg until further notice, pending the possibility of the local firemen being able to stop the spread of the fire in view of the favorable change in the wind.

All of the building that were destroyed were of frame and well seasoned and fell easy prey to the flames.  As practically all the buildings  in the town are of the same material there is the possibility that the fire may not yet be under control.

At five minutes of nine o’clock last evening a boy saw a bright light in the basement of the big four-story hosiery mill, owned by W. H. Shaeffer, of Philadelphia.  He suspected the presence of fire and he had hardly given the alarm when the entire cellar seemed to be filled with flames.

There were several large oil tanks in the basement and almost immediately they took fire and then it was known that the building was doomed, though no one suspected that the flames would spread so far beyond.

Thus, shortly after his death, Samuel Miller‘s life’s work went up in flames.  It is not known at this time how much of the loss was covered by insurance, but with the loss of the business, not much could have been left for his heirs.

Who Was Henry Clay Mellon Who Enlisted at Tremont?

Posted By on February 27, 2017

Previously on this blog, the name of Henry C. Mellon was added to the list of Civil War veterans who had some connection to the Lykens Valley area.

During the war, Henry Clay Mellon enrolled at Tremont, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, 15 September 1862, in the militia regiment known as the 17th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H, as a Private.  His term of service was short and he only was needed during the 1862 threat to the state from Pennsylvania.  He was discharged at the end of the emergency, 26 September 1862.  The card shown above is from the Pennsylvania Archives.

Henry was the son of Mark Mellon (1803-1852) and Justine “Jestie” [Werner] Mellon who were living in Tremont where the father was a hotel keeper.

Alice Atkins

After the Civil War, Henry Clay Mellon moved to Illinois.  He is found in the 1870 census for Dixon, Lee County, Illinois, where he was working as a machinist and living in a boarding house.  Two years later, he married Alice Atkins (1851-1927), whose portrait is shown above.  No portrait has been found of Henry.

Henry died on 19 August 1877 and is buried at the Oakwood Cemetery, Dixon, Lee County, Illinois.  Additional information about him is provided at his  Findagrave Memorial, including a brief biographical sketch by Elsie Harmon, who, a few years ago, provided this project with valuable information on Henry C. Mellon including the photograph of his wife Alice.

After Henry’s death, Alice married twice, first to Jesse Hetler who died in 1907, and second to Simon Stoner, who was a Civil War veteran of the 146th Illinois Infantry.  Simon survived Alice who died in 1927; he died in 1931

Additional clues to researching Henry C. Mellon while he was living in Tremont include finding the name of the hotel operated by his father Mark in 1850.  Perhaps a picture exists of the hotel?

Henry’s father died in 1852 and some time after that, but before 1860, his mother re-married to William Glanding, a 54 year old confectioner, also from Tremont, where the family is found in the 1860 census.


Was William Miller a Civil War Veteran?

Posted By on February 25, 2017

William Morgan, born 18 May 1831, son of Jacob Moyer/Meyer (1804-1869), and Rebecca [Ferree] Moyer (1809-1883), in Washington Township, near Elizabethville, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  He lived most of his life in Wiconisco Township and Lykens Borough, where he worked as a carpenter.  He married Lydia Schadel and had at least six children with her.  He died on 3 November 1887 and is buried at the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Lykens Borough.  His grave marker is pictured above.

Adjacent to the large grave maker for William Moyer at the I.O.O. F. Cemetery, is a smaller stone, on which it is noted that “Father, Company B, 9th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry [9th Pennsylvania Cavalry].”

Since no William Moyer has been located in the records of the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, the question has to be asked if he ever served.  It is possible that the smaller stone has been mistakenly placed in the cemetery and the “father” referred to is another individual.

It also must be noted that William Moyer does not appear on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument as a veteran of the Civil War.  However, there are a number of individuals who did serve but are not included on that monument, so that alone should not be prof he did not serve.

Comments and e-mail are welcome!

Henry Keiser – Wedding Photo Discovered!

Posted By on February 23, 2017

Previously on this blog, a portion of the diary of Henry Keiser of Lykens, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, was presented under the title, The Henry Keiser Diary – Furlough, Marriage, Return to the Front.

At the time of that writing, no picture was available of Henry Keiser in his Civil War uniform, and the only picture available of both Henry Keiser and his bride, Sarah “Sallie” Workman, was taken many years after the war.

Throughout the diary, which was kept from 1861 through 1865, while Henry was serving in the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry and later the 95th Pennsylvania Infantry, he frequently noted pictures that were taken (carte de visite’s) and the mailing of those pictures to friends and relatives.

In early December 2016, a direct descendant of Henry Keiser, sent an e-mail with the above photograph attached.  Unfortunately, as she stated in the e-mail, someone had written the names on the photo.  Fortunately though, there is now a photograph of Henry and Sallie to go with the diary!

For other Civil War Blog posts based on Henry’s diary, click here.  Also, Jake Wynn has written and published a number of posts on Henry Keiser and the diary, one of which can be found at Corporal Keiser’s Christmas.

Elias Minnich – Killed in Action Near Marietta, Georgia

Posted By on February 21, 2017

The name of Elias Minnick appears on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument as a Private who was killed in the Civil War.   His name is most often found in the records as Michael Minnich.

His military record states that he was a member of the 16th United States Infantry, Company C.  He enlisted on 29 February 1864 and he was killed in action at Marietta, Cobb County, Georgia, on 4 July 1864.  He is buried at the Marietta National Cemetery.

Elias Minnich was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, about 1843, the son of Michael Minnich (1811-1891) and Rosa [Kern] Minnich (1812-1890).  in 1850, Elias was living with his family in Washington Township, near Elizabethville, Dauphin County, and in 1860 Elias was working as a servant in Lykens Township.

The Pension Index Card (shown above from Ancestry.com), indicates that his mother applied for survivor benefits on 21 June 1871, which she received and collected until her death in 1890, whereupon the father applied and received the benefits until his death in 1891.

Elias had two brothers who served in the war and survived:  Josiah Minnich and Cyrus Minnich.  Another brother, Uriah Minnich, was not a Civil War veteran, but was killed in an accident at Short Mountain Colliery, 6 May 1901.

Additional information about Elias Minnich can be added as comments to this post.