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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

More Information on Correcting Errors on the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg

Posted By on August 27, 2014

In August 2012, here on this blog, a post was published entitled “Correcting Errors on the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monument.”  That post was written following the discovery by Patty Shoemaker Giroult that the National Park Service (NPS) was no longer correcting errors on battlefield monuments.  This information came to her as a result of an attempt to get the spelling of a name corrected on the monument – a soldier she was researching who died at Gettysburg.  She was told the following by Katie Lawhon of NPS:

When errors such as misspellings and omissions are discovered on monuments in national park areas, it is the policy of the National Park Service (NPS) not to change or correct the monuments or their inscriptions.  NPS management policies state:  “Many commemorative works have existed in the parks long enough to qualify as historic features.  A key aspect of their historical interest is that they reflect the knowledge, attitudes, and tastes of the persons who designed and placed them.  These works and their inscriptions will not be altered, relocated, obscured, or removed, even when they are deemed inaccurate or incompatible with prevailing present-day values.”

The park has created a full listing of Pennsylvania soldiers present at the Battle of Gettysburg, including corrected spellings and names that were omitted from the memorial.  The list is kept in the park’s archives, with a copy available for visitors to review at the park’s Museum and Visitor Center.  If you have not already provided information concerning your great-great grandfather’s service for this listing, you may send copies of your documentation to the Historian’s Office, Resource Planning, Gettysburg National Military Park, 1195 Baltimore Pike, Suite 100, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 17325.

Although that policy was clearly expressed in an e-mail to Patty Shoemaker Giroult, it apparently was not transmitted to park rangers.  In a recent visit to the monument, Donald Triplett, “noticed some scratched off names, added names, etc., on the plaques… [and] tried to get some answers from the park rangers that were there, and they weren’t very knowledgeable as to the policy for correcting such errors….”  After doing some research on his own, he located the above-mentioned blog post, but wanted more information.

After communicating with Katie Lawhon at NPS, he found out that most of the “noticeable changes… came about before the [NPS] took control of the upkeep of the battlefield… [and] the last few changes came about in the 1970s-1980s, which is when the NPS decided to – system wide – stop correcting errors on monuments like the ones at Gettysburg….”

After filing several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and a request for a fee waiver, the scope was narrowed as follows:

Records related to the removal and/or addition of names to the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg from 1970 through 1989.

Records related to the policies and procedures for correcting errors on the Pennsylvania Memorial during the period 1970 through 1989 and records related to the current policy regarding correcting names on the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg National Military Park.

The fee waiver was granted because Donald Triplett agreed to “distribute any information received to historians… who may be interested in a more in-depth look at the changes made to this monument.”

The results of the FOIA request are posted at : https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/gettysburg-military-park-memorial-errors-12645/.  Included are documents pertaining to the specific changes that were made to the monument tablets in the 1970s and 1980s, the last such changes made to the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg.  The documents can be accessed by scrolling to the bottom of the page.  They are “scanned in and text searchable.”

The FOIA request made by Donald Triplett is a significant step forward.  In follow-up discussions with Donald Triplett and Steve Maczuga, who maintains the only known on-line, searchable database of names on the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg, Steve agreed to add notes to his database that would supplement or correct information on the monument.  Steve’s searchable index can be accessed at his web site, Pennsylvanians in the Civil War.  While Steve does not maintain an “official NPS” list, cooperation with the Historian’s Office at Gettysburg (address noted above), could result in a fairly accurate representation of the changes that have been approved and are on record at the Historian’s Office per the policy change made in 1989 – and, with the number of visitors to the park who have smart-phones and other internet-connective devices, provide an on-site index to the monument – provided, of course, that there is a posting of the URL at the monument site, and that park rangers can also access the information and provide it to visitors who do not have mobile internet access.

Information on how to use Steve Maczuga‘s searchable index can be found at:  A Searchable Index to the Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg.  Contact Steve by e-mail.

 

 

Some Basic Facts about the Civil War and Williamstown

Posted By on August 25, 2014

How many men from Williamstown and Williams Township were Civil War veterans?

One of the difficulties in answering this question can be illustrated by three historical maps of Williamstown and Williams Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

The 1858 Map

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Click on map to enlarge.

The 1858 map of Wiconisco Township shows the area presently known as Williamstown and Williams Township as not existing as a separate entity. The eastern part of the township, centered around the “O” in “Wiconisco” has no place names, only the names of the residents.  Central in the township are the towns of Lykens and Wiconisco.

The 1862 Map

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In the 1862 map of Wiconisco Township, the name “Beuhlerton” first appears along the eastern end of the road that crosses the township, west to east. Lykens and Wiconisco remain in the township as the main towns.  Some territory has been lost to the west and has become part of Washington Township.  A proposed railroad extension appears from Lykens to the Summit Branch Tunnel just north of Buehlerton.

The 1876 Map

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The final change is the creation of Williams Township from the eastern end of Wiconisco Township and the expansion and development of Williamstown.  The central features of this new township are the collieries and the new Summit Branch Railroad which terminates at the depot near the Williamstown Colliery.

In examining the three maps, what cannot be ignored is the territory to the “east” – or Schuylkill County and Tower City.  Some of the orientation of the pre-Civil War residents of what eventually became Williamstown/Williams Township was to the east and to Tower City, not to the west and to Lykens and Wiconisco.  From Tower City, it was a relatively easy travel run to Pottsville, the county seat of Schuylkill County.

Thus, those who enrolled in Civil War regiments from the geographical area surrounding Buehlertown, could have chosen to enroll at Lykens or Pottsville depending on their orientation and mode of travel.  During the Civil War, there was no railroad connection at Lykens with points east, but as previously mentioned on this blog, the Lykens Valley Railroad (L.V.R.R.) ran west from “Lykenstown” to just south of Millersburg and there connected with the Northern Central Railroad which ran from its northernmost point of Sunbury, Northumberland County, through Harrisburg (the location of Camp Curtin), to its southermost point of Baltimore, Maryland.  Ironically, those from Buehlertown who chose to enroll at Pottsville, had to travel by wagon, coach or buggy to Pottsville, and then after they enrolled, were sent from Pottsville “over the top” in the railroad “cars” to Sunbury where they connected with the Northern Central Railroad and then headed south to Camp Curtin at Harrisburg.  It was not until after the Civil War that the Williams Valley Branch of the Reading Railroad extended into Lykens at a station in north Lykens (close to Wiconisco).  A trolley provided a connection from the Reading station in north Lykens to the L.V.R.R. Station in south Lykens.

In developing lists of Civil War Soldiers from specific places such as Lykens, Wiconisco, Williamstown, and Williams Township, it is important to keep these facts in mind.  Since the latter two places did not exist between 1861 and 1865, the place of residence for soldiers may have been reported as Lykens or Wiconisco Township.  The unwillingness of many veterans to associate with a place name that did not exist at the time of their Civil War service is reflected in the list of veterans who preferred to join the Heilner G.A.R. Post for Lykens-Wiconisco rather than the Chester G.A.R. Post for Williamstown-Williams Township which was the actual place they lived at the time of their G.A.R. joining.   It is believed that about 1/3 of the approximately 400 veterans whose names appear on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument were actually connected with Williamstown and Williams Township.  Likewise, some Williamstown veterans chose to join the William Thompson G.A.R. Post at Tower City.  

Therefore, when compiling a list of Civil War veterans who had some association with Williamstown and Williamstown, always look carefully at those veterans who were associated with places such as Lykens, Wiconisco, Wiconisco Township, and Tower City including in the censuses of 1860 and prior, church records, and property records.

Dr. Helen Delucia Fisk – Wife of Medal of Honor Recipient Thomas W. Hoffman

Posted By on August 22, 2014

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Dr. Helen Delucia [Fisk] Hoffman died on 16 May 1941 at Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York, at the age of 92.  According to her death notice (above) which appeared in the Naples, New York Record, she was “one of the pioneer woman physicians, and for many years was a member of the staff of the old Jackson Sanitarium [sic] in Dansville.”  There is no mention of survivors in the notice.

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Her death certificate indicated that she was the widow of Thomas W. Hoffman and that she was a doctor by occupation.  Her death was due to hemorrhage caused by general arterial sclerosis.  Helen was born in Dansville, New York, 17 September 1848, the daughter of George C. Fisk, a mechanical engineer who operated a planing mill in Dansville, and Elizabeth [Karcher] Fisk.  The 1850 census notes that she was a twin, but nothing more is known at this time about her brother Henry D. Fisk.

Thomas W. Hoffman was Helen’s first husband.  Their marriage took place in Dansville, New York, on 5 April 1892.  It was Hoffman’s second marriage, his first wife having died in 1890. Thomas W. Hoffman had three known children by the first marriage:  Susan Hoffman, born about 1866; Mary “Mamie” Hoffman, born about 1868; and Elizabeth Hoffman, born about 1876.  Thomas W. Hoffman was born in Berrysburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania and for his meritorious actions in front of Petersburg, he received the Medal of Honor.

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Click on document to enlarge.

In 1900 Thomas, age 60, and Helen, age 51, were living in a boarding house on Adams Avenue in Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, that was operated by two women:  Margaret Kries, age 44, a widow, and her partner, Marion Cantner, age 46, who was single.  An interesting group of people lived in the boarding house, including a shoe salesman from Virginia, a servant from Ireland, a locomotive engineer from England, and a commercial traveling salesman of canned beans from Iowa.  Helen was listed as a physician and Thomas was a clerk, probably for a department store near the boarding house.

No record has yet been seen to indicate that Helen was a practicing physician in Scranton.  Primarily, she appears to be associated with the Jackson Sanatorium in Dansville, New York.  After Thomas W. Hoffman‘s death in 1905,  she moved to New York and lived with her niece.  No record has yet been seen to indicate that Helen had any “standard” education as a physician (such as at a medical college).  There is some indication though that she received her training at the Jackson Sanatorium.

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In 1880, Helen was living with her parents in North Dansville, New York, and she gave no occupation to the census taker.  It is therefore possible that she received her training after 1880.

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The “official” guide to the Jackson Sanatorium can be found as a free download from the Internet Archive.  It was established in 1858 for “the scientific treatment of invalids and for recuperation and rest in cases of overwork and nervous exhaustion.”

The Jackson Sanatorium is conducted as a distinctively Health Institution and not as a fashionable resort.  Regularity of life and freedom from noise and social excitement prevail thus securing long periods of rest while at the same time rational recreation and amusements are amply provided for.  Although the comfort and welfare of the sick are the first considerations, every opportunity is provided for those who desire to spend a pleasant and profitable vacation season….

The sanatorium was located on a hill about a half mile above the town of Dansville.  Today, the building is abandoned and is partially in rubble.

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While Dr. Helen D. Fisk is not listed as one of the main medical staff, there is a line in the official guide that states that “the permanent staff [is] assisted by four assistant physicians.”

Part of Dr. Fisk’s training may have been a trip she took in 1889, as reported in the Rochester, New York, Democrat and Chronicle, 10 June 1889:

Dr. Elizabeth Fear and Dr. Helen D. Fisk, of the Dansville Sanitarium [sic] will spend the coming year in Europe together, visiting the principal health institutions and sanitariums [sic] of Germany and the hospitals of Paris, Berlin and Vienna.

The Scranton Republican reported on 23 November 1897, that Dr. Helen Fisk Hoffman was a “medical electrician.”  Turning again to the booklet produced by the Jackson Sanatorium, the following electrical treatments are noted:

During the past few years great advances have been made in the scientific application of electricity to the removal or relief of disease, and as a consequence this remedial agency has come rapidly into favor with the best medical practitioners, particularly in the treatment of diseases of women.  In recognition of this fact, and knowing by observation and experience the curative value of electricity, especially when employed in conjunction with hydro-therapeutic measured for the restoration of invalids, the management of the Jackson Sanatorium has given special attention to this department, making it complete in every detail, and furnishing it with all the latest and most approved apparatus for giving treatment in its varied forms.  Electro-Thermal Baths, with stationary batteries, also portable Galvanic and Faradic batteries, are employed.  A superior Holtz machine is used for the administration of Statical Electricity.

Overall though at the Jackson Sanatorium, electrical treatments appear to be secondary to the primary focus on a “careful regulation of daily life, including diet, exercise, rest and relaxation, with cheerful and helpful social and religious influences…. Massage, an important measure of treatment here, is given by experienced masseurs.  Drugs are not relied upon for curative purposes, but are used conservatively, as it is believed that better and safer means are available.”

When and why Dr. Fisk left employment at the Jackson Sanatorium is not known at this time.

In her widow’s pension application, which was made in March 1913, about eight years after the death of her husband, Dr. Fisk had to prove that she was married to Thomas W. Hoffman and not married to anyone else, before or since.  She also had to prove that he was not married to anyone else.  For this latter proof, she solicited the help of two of Hoffman’s daughters by his first marriage.  They provided a deposition that confirmed the marriage to Helen and verification that after the death of their mother, their father married no one else.  Helen received the pension, which it appears was her only income until her death in 1941.

After her death, the niece who had taken care of Helen in her last years, asked the Pension Bureau for additional funds to pay for the end-of-life care that Helen received in a “Health Home.”  It is not known if the government reimbursed the niece for the money she put out – but the niece was sure to point out in the claim that her aunt’s husband was a Medal of Honor recipient!

More information is sought about Helen Delucia Fisk, her time as a physician, and her time as the husband of Medal of Honor recipient Thomas W. Hoffman.

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Census information is from Ancestry.com.

 

 

Monuments at Gettysburg – 27th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on August 20, 2014

027thPA-Inquirer-1889-09-11-001aThe 27th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument at Gettysburg is located southeast of Gettysburg on East Cemetery Hill.  The monument was dedicated in 1889 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and was the second monument to the regiment that was placed at Gettysburg.  The above drawing appeared with an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on 11 September 1889 on the dedication and re-dedication of Gettysburg battlefield monuments.

For more information about this monument and the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry as well as a picture of the monument see Steve Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site.

A full description of the monument, its GPS coordinates, a picture, and some of the history of the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.  There is also a photograph of the first monument, placed and dedicated in 1884.

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The above-mentioned article from the Philadelphia Inquirer contained the following information about the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry:

A Monument for Gettysburg.

A committee of the Twenty-seventh Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, commanded by the late Colonel Bushbeck, and which, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Cantador, participated with distinction in the memorable Battle of Gettysburg, 1, 2, 3 July, will unveil a monument… on the battlefield, on the spot where the regiment distinguished itself.  It consists of a white marble base topped by a shaft.  On the top of the latter there is an eagle resting on a cannon ball, and bearing in its beak a crescent, the badge or emblem of the Eleventh Army Corps….

The 27th, organized by Co. W. F. Sewall as part of the Washington Brigade, was recruited from Northern Liberties and Kensington districts of Philadelphia.  A number of both officers and men had seen service in this country and Europe.  Its part at Gettysburg began with preparations to defend the town by taking charge of the jail, church and school building and preventing entrance from that end of the town.  It went on into the fight against Early, taking a position near a brick kiln.  Part of the regiment under Colonel Vogelbach was ordered to fill a gap in the line to the right of the 154th New York.  Only fifty men reached the position, and these were cut off and captured, Colonel Vogelbach being shot down. 

The remainder of the regiment had fallen back to Cemetery Hill.  Here, as they were advanced upon by the rebels on the 2nd, a mounted man in the national uniform of a staff officer ordered the regiment to fall back.  The order was given and the greater part of the men refused to go.  The pretended officer then leaped the wall and galloped away to rejoin the rebels.  A desperate attack followed, but the rebels were driven back.  Lieutenant Briggs was killed in the act of cheering his men.  On the 3rd the regiment was exposed to the terrible artillery fire for three hours.  During the night this regiment was the first to reappear in the town, to the great joy of the inhabitants.  It had lost 2 officers and 22 men killed, 68 wounded and 45 missing.  The 27th will re-dedicate its monument dedicated last year.

 

 

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Lorenz Cantador (1810-1883)

Lorenz Cantador was born in  Düsseldorf, Germany, 1 June 1883, to a family that originated in Northern Italy.  Because of his participation in the Revolution of 1848, he was eventually captured and jailed.  After release he fled through France to the United States where he offered his military services to Pennsylvania, receiving command of the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry as its Major on 7 September 1861 with promotion to Lieutenant Colonel on 2 October 1861.  After the Battle of Gettysburg, he continued to lead the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry until his discharge on 16 November 1863.  His Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index Card from the Pennsylvania Archives is shown below.  This was his only American Civil War service.

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A pension application was submitted on 13 January 1883 from New York where he resided after the war, trying to make a living in various professions.  Although he received the pension, it was too late to reverse his fortune;  he died impoverished in New York City on 2 December 1883.  The Pension Index Card from Fold3 is shown below with his death date.  It is not known if he was ever married, but no one applied for widow’s benefits.

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At this time it is not known where he was buried.  For addition information about Lieutenant Colonel Lorenz Cantador, see Gesellschaft Zur Ludwigsburg.

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Around the base of the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg are a series of plaques which, by regiment and company, note the names of every soldier who was present at the Battle of Gettysburg. Previously on this blog, the plaque for the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry was featured.  See:  27th Pennsylvania Infantry – Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg.

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The news article containing the drawing of the monument and the text transcribed above was obtained through the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The Civil War Museum at Nash Farm Battlefield, Hampton, Henry County, Georgia

Posted By on August 18, 2014

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Nash Farm Battlefield Museum

The Nash Farm is located in the western part of Henry County, Georgia, 21 miles south of Atlanta, at 4361 Jonesboro Road.  It is about five miles west of Exit 221 of I-75.  During the Civil War, it was a Confederate campsite and was the location of the largest cavalry raid the state’s history – which was conducted by Union General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, after whom the G.A.R. Post in Millersburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania was named.  Participating in the cavalry corps led by Kilpatrick was the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry which included many men from  the Lykens Valley area.  According to local (Henry County) information, the Nash Farm site is one of the “few Civil War battlefields that remain intact, meticulously preserved” – which allows visitors to re-visit the final days of Gen. William T. Sherman‘s Atlanta Campaign – much as it may have appeared at the time to the participants.

The Nash Farm Battlefield Museum is open to the public.  There is no admission charge, but donations are appreciated.  It is operated by volunteers who are members of the Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield, a non-profit membership group.  For membership information and hours of operation contact Friends at www.henrycountybattlefield.com.

A quick pictorial tour of the museum is presented below.  The pictures are a mere sampling of what is available.  Plan at least one hour to visit.

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Articles Found on the Battlefield

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The General

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Nash Family Artifacts

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Nash Family Artifacts

A portrait gallery of some of the soldiers who fought for the Confederacy at Nash Farm is located in a long hallway.  A few of the frames are shown below.

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Thomas Stock Elliott

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William A. Fuller

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Harris Jesse Phillips (1837-1911)

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Francis Marion Hale

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Patrick Henry Hale

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Madison Maddox (1835-1917)

Finally, there is a conference room and genealogical library available at the museum for researchers to study about the battle and its participants:

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Genealogical Library at the Museum

For other blog posts on Nash Farm Battlefield, click here.