Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Henry B. Meffert – Grandson of Elizabethville Founder Died in Missouri

Posted By on August 24, 2016

In researching the descendants of John Bender (1780-1827), who laid out the town of Elizabethville in 1817, Henry Benjamin Meffert was discovered as a Civil War soldier who served in the 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F, as a Private and a Corporal.  Portraits of Henry B. Meffert and his wife Lydia Dell Tunks are shown above.

Elizabeth [Bender] Meffert

Henry’s mother was Elizabeth Bender (1807-1893), the daughter of John Bender, thus making Henry B. Meffert the grandson of the founder of ElizabethvilleJohn Bender died in Elizabethville in 1824, so it is likely that Elizabeth Bender was living there at the time of his death.  It is not known for certain where Jacob Meffert (1799-1870) was born, but the marriage of Henry B. Meffert‘s parents took place in Harrisburg in 1827.  Henry B. Meffert was born on 29 June 1838, in Dauphin County, according to his draft registration record.  However, at the time of the Civil War, he was living in the western part of Pennsylvania.


According to the Veterans’ File Card available from the Pennsylvania Archives, Henry was 23 years old when he enrolled at Meadville, Pennsylvania, on 19 August 1861.  He was mustered into service on 3 September 1861 at Erie, Pennsylvania, as a Private in Company F, 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry.  On 20 May 1862, he was appointed Corporal.  On 30 August 1862 he was wounded at Bull Run, Virginia, and as a result of those wounds was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability on 18 September 1862.  Other records show that he was first wounded on 27 June 1862 at Gaines Mills, Virginia.

After the Civil War, Henry B. Meffert moved to Caldwell County, Missouri, where he worked as a farmer and raised of family of at least 3 children.


Presumably, Henry B. Meffert‘s war injuries were sufficient to receive a disability pension, which he applied for on 22 June 1863.  There is no state of application noted in the far right column of the Pension Index Card (shown above from Ancestry.com), so he may have returned home to Pennsylvania prior to going west.  Lydia, the widow, applied on 28 September 1909, from Missouri.

Henry B. Meffert died on 11 September 1909, in Caldwell County, Missouri.  His wife, Lydia D. Meffert survived him, but only for short time. She died on 22 January 1910.  Both are buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Caldwell County, Missouri.  For additional information, see their Findagrave Memorial.  Obituaries have not yet been located for either Henry or Lydia.

Has any reader obtained either the military or pension records?  What was the nature of Henry’s military injuries that gave him a discharge and permitted an early pension?



Descendants of John Bender, Founder of Elizabethville

Posted By on August 22, 2016

In researching Civil War soldiers with a connection to Elizabethville, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, a question was asked by Jack Richter who is researching veterans for the Elizabethville Bicentennial, whether Dr. Wilson E. Naylor, a retired dentist of Elizabethville, was related to John Bender, considered to be Elizabethville‘s founder in 1817, which he named for his wife.  John Bender also founded the town of Bendersville there.

The obituary of Dr. Naylor, previously presented here on 3 November 2012, noted that following his Civil War service, Wilson Naylor practiced dentistry in Gettysburg and Bendersville, in Adams County, from 1864 to 1914. He then retired to Elizabethville. But, Dr. Naylor is buried in Bendersville.

Trying to determine a relationship was difficult and while to date, no relationship has been discovered, it is still possible that a relationship exists.

Initially, Marilyn Henninger, President of the Elizabethville Area Historical Society, provided a 15 page printout of the descendants of John Bender that was printed from a GEDCOM compiled a few years ago by researcher Evelyn Hartman.  Several descendant lines were not fully extended, so a better genealogy was sought.

Roger Cramer, who has one of the most comprehensive databases of persons descended from the pioneer settlers of the Lykens Valley area (approaching 200,000 names), was consulted and he offered a printout of 170 pages.  Roger’s printout has detailed information on most of the descendants.  Civil War soldiers are identified.  Roger has also added information from newly available on-line source material to his database (death certificates, marriage licenses, church records, etc.) and has recently gone back over the Lykens Valley census records line by line to verify dates and relationships.

The printout provided by Roger Cramer, begins with Adam Bender (1751-1826), the father of John Bender.

Surnames introduced in “Generation No. 2” include:  Long, Messersmith/Messerschmidt, Wingert/Wingard, Gipple/Kipple, Snyder/Schneider, and Hopple.

Some of the surnames introduced in “Generation No. 3” include:  Lebo, Fisher, Dietrich/Deitrich, Yeager, Botts, Romberger/Ramberger, Welker, Schupp/Shoop, Albright, Shraeder, Hoover, Griesemer, Keiter, Meffert, Hawk, Low, Zimmerman, Whitmore/Whitmer/Witmer, Drum/Drumm, Miller, Eby, Reisch, Fetterhoff, Boyer, Matter, Miller, Enders, Reichert, Schreffler, Bechtel, Schmidt, Bretz, Buffington, Lebo, Bowman, Enterline, Ott, Yeartz, Leese, Hoy, Frymoyer, Staple, Lenker, Sausser, Smith, Hoffman, Witman, McColly, Morgan, Kocher, Shiley, Wise, Beck, Messner, Sheetz, Kolva, Minnich, Paul, Wilbert/Wilvert, Yoder, Howerter, Alvord, Jackson, Schindel/Shindel, Bressler, Rowe/Row, Shiley, Shadow, Koons, McPhetridge, Cook, Coonfield, Truitt, Shontz, Novinger, Schultz, Moyer, Lubold/Lupold, Orth, Book, Etzweiler, Stakley, Klinger, Brown, Fesig, Schell/Shell, Murray, Kembel, Wirth, Huntzinger, Shindler, Hower, Hepner, Werfel, Kiefer, Koppenhaver, Fisher, Walter, Shutt/Shott, Hess, Foster, Sollenberg, Dunkel, Bowman, Paul, Nold, Lyter, Hettrick, Meckley, Bendigo, Leffler, Schwab/Swab, Etter, Bower, Lentz, Lehman, Sponsler, Spendt, Taylor, Daniel, Morgan, Siefert, Moser, Allgaier, Mosloskie, Ossman/Osman, File, Kebaugh, Bonawitz, Weaver, Barry, Minnich, Reedy, Collier, Hummel, Mauser/Mausser, Wolfe/Wolf, Bateman, McNeal, Shuey, Gerhard, Hiteman, Groff, Shade, Hunter, Cook, Machamer, Dresel, Kinter, Phillips/Philips, Raudenbush, Books, Rutter, Wetzel, Williams, Clelan, White, Arbogast, Workman, Kerns, Carnathan, Barto, Yeagley, Byerly, Radel, Hulmer, Musser, Murphy, Hoke, Herman, Hendricks, Becher, Leitzel, Celano, Troutman, Savage, Shomper, Murray, Pritchard, Maurer, Malnick, Kohr, Pennell, Tobias, Nace, Rutter, Bilger, Kinsinger, Thomas, Primm, Koons, James, Evans, Simmonds, Kreiner, Devine, Ritzman, Smeltz, Gaskill, Boden, Orr, Kopp, Houtz, Harter, Chubb, Beadle, Webb, Rettinger, Weirich, Stahl, Torey, Trout, Wright, Daniels, Schoffstall, Coleman, Holwig, Geise/Gise, Travitz, Grell, Pinkerton, Solence, Underkoffler, Starnowsky, Stuppy, Herb, Sites, Warner, Potter, Holtzman, Myers, Hand, Umholtz, Davis, Mabon, Schlein, Riegle/Reigle, Webner, Campbell, etc.

A copy of the Bender descendants as provided by Roger Cramer is available at the Elizabethville Area Historical Society.

If anyone researching the John Bender descendants can show a genealogical relationship between him (or his descendants) and Dr. Wilson Naylor, the information would greatly be appreciated by those doing research for the Elizabethville Bicentennial.



Where is Peter Crabb Buried?

Posted By on August 19, 2016

Peter Crabb, one of the earliest settlers of Gratz, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, was an African American who was born in Pennsylvania about 1787.  He was the father of two known Civil War soldiers, John Peter Crabb and Edward Crabb, both previously profiled here.  At the present time, there are two working theories on where Peter Crabb was born.  One theory has him as the son of William Augustus Crabb, a white man who was a slave owner from Middletown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.   Another theory has him as the son of George Crabb, an African American from Northumberland County.

Pennsylvania’s Act of 1780

In support of the former theory is some DNA evidence and some circumstantial information related to  Pennsylvania’s gradual emancipation law. If Peter Crabb was born to an enslaved woman in Pennsylvania in 1787, he would have been manumitted (freed) by an 1780 Pennsylvania law which, according to a Wikipedia article:

respected the property rights of Pennsylvania slaveholders by not freeing slaves already held in the state. It changed the legal status of future children born to enslaved Pennsylvania mothers from “slave” to “indentured servant,” but required those children to work for the mother’s master until age 28. To verify that no additional slaves were imported, the Act created a registry of all slaves in the state. Slaveholders who failed to register their slaves annually, or who did it improperly, lost their slaves to manumission….

Was Peter Crabb, who was born about 1787, an indentured servant (not a slave) until he reached the age of 28, or about 1815?  An 1788 Amendment, required a Pennsylvania slaveholder to register the birth of a child to an enslaved mother within 6 months of that birth.  However, if Peter Crabb was born in 1787, one year before the Amendment, he probably would not appear on any registry.  The census of 1790 for Harrisburg, identifies three slaves in the household of William Augustus Crabb, and also identifies two persons in a category called “other free persons,” i.e., non-white, but free.  It could be that the young Peter Crabb was one of the two “other free persons” since he was not a slave (indentured servants, by law, were not considered slaves),  but also was non-white, and his mother could have been one of the three slaves.

The original Crabb property in Gratz

According to the book, A Comprehensive History of the Town of Gratz Pennsylvania, published in 1997, the Crabb family arrived in Gratz at about the time that Peter Crabb purchased Simon Gratz Lot No. 47, on 7 April 1824, located on the northwest corner of the intersection one block east of the town square.  At about the same time as the purchase, a log house was constructed on that site.  According to the same source, that log house is the central core of the house presently found at that location.

In 1830, Peter Crabb is found in the census in “Gratztown,” as head of a family with six colored and one white person in his household.  By 1850, he was enumerated in Lykens Township as a free “mulatto.” (Gratz was not incorporated until later in the decade, so it was not a separate entity in the 1850 census).  Peter Crabb was a blacksmith.  In 1860, he was enumerated in Gratz and in addition to himself, some of his sons living in his household were also blacksmiths.  In 1862, Crabb family properties include two homes on Market Street, as shown on a map previously presented here on this blog.  Because Peter Crabb does not appear in later censuses, it can be assumed that he died some time between 1860 and 1870.

The “Gratz Book” makes the following assumptions:  (1) [He] either died [in Gratz], or moved to some other area, and  (2) “[He is] not buried in the Gratz area.” There is no known evidence that he did or did not die in Gratz and it not known for certain where he is buried.

It has been previously stated on this blog that the publications of the Gratz Historical Society never indicate African origins of any persons or families named, but nearly always note the German and English origins of other families.  This has been one of the problems in researching the Crabb family.  By recognizing that Peter Crabb had an African origin, different records groups can be utilized in researching him.

In 1978, a book was published on the history of the Simeon United Lutheran Church.  That book included a large section which identified the cemetery burials in the Union Cemetery surrounding the church.  Originally, the first cemetery section north of the church was for Reformed Church burials and the second section north of the church was for Lutheran Church burials.  Those persons buried in those sections, particularly in the first several rows, were the earliest settlers in Gratz.  The 1978 book names eight persons of the Crabb surname who are buried either in the first or second section north of the church, and six of those are buried in Section 1, in either Rows 4, 5 or 6.  This would seem to suggest that these burial plots were purchased by the family very early in the history of the cemetery.  However, since only six persons are named in this very large burial plot, this could indicate that many more family members are buried here and that their graves are not marked.

It is possible that because of Peter Crabb‘s status in the Gratz community, including in the Reformed Church, that he had the means and influence to purchase this large burial plot in the 1830s when the cemetery was established.

The 1978 history indicates (page 10) that a Lutheran congregation existed long before the church building was built.  The earliest recorded baptism was in 1822 and at that time there were 59 Lutherans in the Gratz area.  The church building itself was not constructed until 1831 and it is assumed that the cemetery was created at about the same time.  Not much is known about the earliest history of the Reformed Church in Gratz, although much more is known about the early history of the Hoffman Church, located in Lykens Township just a few miles from Gratz.

At the top of this post, a portion of the Crabb family burial plot is pictured.  Shown is Row 4.  However, the cemetery records as presented in the 1978 book, indicate that there are some Crabb burials in Rows 5 and 6, just behind the row pictured.  As previously noted in the blog post, Edward Crabb – Victim of Bigotry in Gratz, the family plot is not well maintained and may have been vandalized at some point in the past.  Also noted in that blog post is the fact that Edward Crabb is not currently recognized as a Civil War veteran although he certainly was!  This non-recognition almost certainly has to do with the fact that he was an African American.

It is possible that Peter Crabb is buried in one of the unmarked places in either Rows 4, 5, or 6 of Section 1.  If there is a non-invasive way to determine whether there are burials in the unmarked places in the Crabb family area of this cemetery, it should be attempted.  There are other older sections of this cemetery where grave markers are missing and where burials may have taken place.  But, there is also the possibility that because Peter Crabb was an African American, that his grave may have been marked at one time, but the marker was destroyed or vandalized because of his race.  It would be highly unusual that a family could afford to purchase such a large burial plot in this oldest section of the cemetery and then not be able to afford to properly mark the graves with appropriate memorials to those buried there.

Another approach would be to try to determine when the grave markers were broken.  There are living persons who have claimed to be caretakers of this cemetery.  Curiously, one of these persons is Charles Schoffstall, who in a most recent book, Wonder Boy (Sunbury Press, 2016), stated that “for a few years” he took care of the Simeon’s Lutheran Church Cemetery [a.k.a. Gratz Union Cemetery] and was paid to dig graves.  What is interesting about Schoffstall’s revelation is that he and his wife Lois Schoffstall are the chief perpetrators (race deniers) of the lie that African Americans never lived in Gratz.  The Schoffstall’s were previously profiled here in several blog post which described their illegal takeover of the Gratz Historical Society and the “cooking of the books” of the Society (more than $30,000 is documented as missing from the Society’s Endowment Fund).  They are also responsible for maintaining a shrine to the Ku Klux Klan and producing a video showing one of the Society members giving a “Heil Hitler” salute to the shrine.  If Charles Schoffstall was a caretaker of the Gratz Union Cemetery, he knows some of the history of the large Crabb burial plot and he knows that those buried there were of African American descent.  This “longtime Gratz resident” should be asked to give a truthful history of this family burial site.  Are there other members of the Crabb  family buried in this plot?  And, if so, who are they?

It is very possible that Peter Crabb, one of the earliest settlers of Gratz, is buried in Gratz, at the Gratz Union Cemetery, in a large family burial plot that he purchased for himself and for his family.

Additional thoughts are welcome from readers.  Please add appropriate comments to this post or send via e-mail.

Note:  The History of Simeon United Lutheran Church, by Lynn C. Schadle and published in 1978, was dedicated to William Dietrich and Helen [Hoffman] Dietrich, long-time members of the Simeon Church in Gratz, and was made possible by a generous contribution by Kathryn [Dietrich] Gasbarro in memory of her parents, both of whom died in 1977.  The book is sometimes available on the used book market.



Who is John Kicher? Named on Lykens G.A.R. Monument

Posted By on August 17, 2016


Information is sought on “John Kicher” who is named on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument as a veteran who served in the Civil War as a Private and joined the Heilner Post in Lykens after its organization (meaning he was not a Charter Member).

Please submit information either as a comment to this post or send an e-mail to the Project.  Thank you.

Who is Jerry Kerchner? Named on Lykens G.A.R. Monument

Posted By on August 15, 2016


Information is sought on “Jerry Kerchner” who is named on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument as a veteran who served in the Civil War as a Private and joined the Heilner Post in Lykens after its organization (meaning he was not a Charter Member).

Please submit information either as a comment to this post or send an e-mail to the Project.  Thank you.