Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

A Slightly Longer Obituary of Henry Kemble

Posted By on June 27, 2016

On 14 December 2014, the story of Henry Kemble was presented here in a post entitled, Farmer of Northumberland County. Another obituary of him was recently located in the Mount Carmel Item of 6 January 1922:



Harry Kemble, brother of the late Isaac Kemble of Mount Carmel, died at ten o’clock last night on the old Kemble homestead, located near Kneass Station and Herndon.

On Christmas Day, Mr. Kemble went to the Zartman United Evangelical Church to build a fire in the heater.  He slipped on the ice and sustained an injury to his ankle, and had great difficulty returning to his home.

Mr. Kemble was a a veteran of the Civil War, having serve two complete enlistments in the Federal Army.  He was a member of the Mahanoy Lodge of Odd Fellows for the past  fifty-five years, and was one of the oldest and most faithful members of the Zartman U. E. Church.

Although he lived on the farm all his life, except during the time he served in the Army, Mr. Kemble was a writer and poet of note, and was one of Northumberland County’s best informed men.

The immediate survivors are a sister, Mrs. Mary K. Baum, Herndon, and a stepbrother, Jacob Drumheller, residing at Supply House, between Mount Carmel and Kulpmont.

The funeral will be on Monday, burial to be made in the Zartman Church Cemetery.

The news article is from Newspapers.com.

Isaac Kemble – “The devil can’t chase these little gnats….”

Posted By on June 24, 2016


During the Civil War, Isaac Kemble served with the 47th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, as a Corporal, enrolling at Sunbury, Northumberland County on 19 August 1861, and mustered into service in Harrisburg, 2 September 1861.  At the time he was 22 years old (born 1839), was employed as a surveyor, and resided at Sunbury.  He stood 5 foot, seven inches tall, was of light complexion, had grey eyes and light hair.


Isaac’s enrollment was for three years, and at the end of his service, he chose to be discharged rather than re-enlist.  The card above, from the Pennsylvania  Archives, notes that on an unknown date, he was reduced in rank to a Private.

From Beauford, South Carolina, on 4 September 1862, Isaac Kemble wrote to his friend Emanuel Kawel in Berrysburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania:


Dear Brother Kawel,

I don’t know whether I owe you a letter or you one. I forgot to note it in my diary. But I know it is the time to for me to write.  We had a great time out on picket.  We [Companies A, F, D, I, C.]  went out on the 20th of August and came in on the 1st September.  We were about – miles from Camp, stationed along the bank of the Coosaw.  Our company occupied a good house for Headquarters.  The time was very rainy and sometimes disagreeable.  The gnats and mosquitos were dreadfully bad.  Had to slap and flap about like cattle in flytime, but the devil can’t chase these little gnats and the bite is extremely annoying. We saw only a few men on the rebel side of the river, though the other companies were shooting over all the time.  We had to be on post every blessed night, no chance to sleep, and if we had chance, the critters would….

[Note:  a portion of the letter is missing at this point].

By the last news from home, I learn that Brother Harry and nearly all the boys at home are off to the war.  Well, good for that.  We must have help to kill the rebellion and a good deal of help we need. I am sorry to hear that father is left all alone to do his work but the country must be saved at any risk or sacrifice.  It was bad enough before this, but now almost all the boys are gone.  Oh! My! won’t there be many sorrowful hearts indeed.  I sometimes pity their case.  Tell one in your next letter whether you could make use of some $40 or $50 — need it I may perhaps send it to you at the pay day following the next, sometime in November. I want all the money I have to spare used by my friends. I know that your taxes may be heavy, so if I can help you any I will cheerfully do so.  But perhaps you will have to go yet if Pennsylvania has to be subject to a draft.  How would you like that?  Then I would pity Harriet and Beckie and all the others.

Well, how are you all getting along now?  Are you all well and happy?  Hope you are.  I am pretty well now, only subject to dyspepsia, which is sometimes very annoying, but I have done my duty every since in South Carolina.

Please excuse this short letter, as news is out of date now.  We have no late news from the North.  Write soon.  Give my love to all.

Your sincere friend,

Isaac Kembel

On 26 September 1870, Isaac Kembel married Matilda Bickel.  One source indicates that the marriage took place at the Oakdale Church in Washington Township, Dauphin County.


In 1891, Isaac applied for a pension (see card above from Ancestry.com), which he received and collected until his death, which occurred on 19 August 1909.  Then, his widow applied and she received benefits until her death, which occurred in 1915.


Isaac and his wife Matilda are buried at the Herndon Cemetery in Jackson Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.  Additional information about him can be found at his Findagrave Memorial.

On 19 August 1909, the Daily News, of Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, ran his obituary:




Isaac Kemble died at 8:50 o’clock this morning at his home on East Avenue.  Mr. Kemble died in the harness, almost literally, for he worked at his profession on the Oak Street paving until a few days ago, and ceased then because of the extreme heat and the importunities of his family.  Heart failure is given as the cause of his death.  The funeral will be held on Saturday, the interment being made at Herndon.  Arrangements will be announced tomorrow.

Mr. Kemble is survived by a widow and six children, of the seven that have been part of the household.  The children are:  Edward B. Kemble, Manager of the Item, William Penn Kemble, Editor; Miss Lydia Kemble and Miss Laura Kemble, of our city; Dr. Adam Kemble of Washington, D.C.; and Frank Kemble, a student at West Point Military Academy.

Isaac Kemble was born in Jackson Township, this county [Northumberland], on 12 May 1839.  He was educated in the public schools of the county and at the Old Pennsylvania College at New Berlin, of which institution he was a graduate in the classical and civil engineering course.  He taught school a years prior to completing his course in college and for a number of years afterward in this state and in Iowa and Illinois, nearly thirty years in all.  His authority to teach in this state was that of a permanent certificate.

He enlisted in the War of the Rebellion and served in the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers for three years and one month, nearly all of the time in the far South, being in a number of hot contests between the competing forces.  After returning from the South, he spent a few years in the West, teaching and in mercantile pursuits.

Isaac Kemble and Matilda Bickel were married at Tower City, 25 September 1870.  He came to Mount Carmel 26 years ago.  In this community he has served the borough as its engineer a number of years and has been the official surveyor for many of the  municipalities in the region.  He was the President of the Mount Carmel Item Publishing Company, and was always active in the business of that publication.  He was a member of Swatara Lodge, No. 267, F. and A.M. at Tremont, of Tremont Chapter No. 221, and the Prince of Peace Commandery, No. 39, at Ashland;  He was Past Grand of Tower Lodge, No. 755, I.O.O.F., of Tower City, and Post Post Commander of Burnside Post, No. 92, G.A.R.  He was a member of the United Evangelical Church and a trustee of the association here.  He was a member of the church from boyhood before he enlisted for the war.

As a man, Isaac Kemble ranked high.  He had the very laudable faculty of attending his own business to the exclusion of meddlesomeness in other people’s affairs; he was dignified in his association with his fellow men; he was kindly disposed toward everybody; he was diligent in the prosecution of his business interests; he was a good husband and a kind and indulgent father; he was an honest man.

Th news clipping is from Newspaper.com.  The portrait of Isaac Kembel at the top of this post and a copy of the letter sent to Emanuel Kawel are from Project files.  The surname is found as Kemble and Kembel in the records.

James Kilrain – Irish Immigrant. Coal Miner, and Civil War Veteran

Posted By on June 22, 2016


James Kilrain was born about 1839 in Ireland.  At the time of the Civil War, he was living in Minersville, Schuylkill County and working as a coal miner.  He first volunteered for the 16th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company K, as a Private, serving in this 90-day regiment from 8 April 1861 through 10 July 1861.  Later in the war, he joined the 55th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company E, as a Private, serving from 1 March 1864 through his honorable discharge on 30 August 1865.

Kilrain was first discovered as a potential veteran from the Lykens Valley area when the name “James Kelhain” was discovered in the Reilly Township, 1890 Census.  A widow, “Mary Moffat“, reported that her husband had served in Company E of the 16th Pennsylvania Infantry from 8 April 1861 through 25 August 1865.  Two piece of incorrect information were given – the company and the concluding date of service.  Fortunately, there is an easy way to find the correct information.

Steve Maczuga‘s database of Pennsylvania Civil War Soldiers provides a search aid where the entire regiment, in this case the 16th Pennsylvania Infantry, can be brought up on one screen.  Using that aid, the following was discovered:


Click on picture to enlarge.

A “James Killraue” was found in Company K, and his concluding date of service was 10 July 1861.

Using that spelling, the following card was located in the Pennsylvania Archives:


New information found on the “James Killraue” was that he enrolled at Minersville, was mustered into the regiment at Harrisburg, and was 22 years old at the time (born about 1839).

Using the regimental/company Pension Index Card grouping at Fold3, the following card was located in Company K of that regiment:


The above card shows that when the application for a pension was made on 4 November 1881, he used the spelling “Kilrain”. It also shows that he served in the 55th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company E, that he did receive a pension, and that a widow applied and received benefits after he died.


Finding the information on his service in the 55th Pennsylvania Infantry was easy, although the spelling of the surname was slightly different in those military records – “Killrain.”  At the time of enrollment in that regiment/company, he gave his age as 25 (born about 1839), his occupation as a miner, and his residence as Northampton County, Pennsylvania [Note: this latter piece of information may be incorrect since Northumberland and Northampton counties are sometimes confused in the records].   Personal information about him included his height of 5 foot, 5.5 inches, and that his hair was brown, his complexion was florid and his eyes were grey.

What was the name of his widow?


According to the Pension Index Card version available on Ancestry.com, shown above, the widow’s name was Bridget Kilrain.  She applied for widow’s benefits on 28 December 1907.   Now, points of confusion are discovered.  The 1890 Census appears to name a “Mary Moffat” as the widow of James (see below) – both are on the same line (No. 3).  And, the pension application was not made until 1907.


However, a “line number notation” at the left side of the sheet seems to suggest that Mary should be on “line 2 1/2” and therefore was the widow of David Weir, who appears on ‘line 2.”  The pattern of naming the widow after the name of the soldier is more evident on “line 6” of this sheet where William Devine is named and his widow is named on “line 7” with the notation of “line 6 1/2.”  It must be concluded that James Kilrain did not die before the 1890 census!  It is therefore likely that he died closer to the date when the widow, Bridget Kilrain applied for benefits, 28 December 1907.

Proof that James Kilrain was still alive in 1900 was found in that census for Reilly Township where he is found living with his wife Bridget and daughter Lizzie and working as a laborer in a coal mine.  The immigration date of 1854 from Ireland, as well as the marriage date of 1868, is also established from this census, though a question can be asked about the suggested January 1834 birthdate – which conflicts with the approximate date of his two military enlistments.

A search of Pennsylvania Death Certificate, which began being issued in 1906, produced no matching result for James Kilrain.

A search of Findagrave produced the gravestone photo show at the top of this post.  James Kilrain, who served in the 55th Pennsylvania Infantry, is buried at the St. Vincent dePaul Cemetery, Minersville, Schuylkill County.  The stone is of government issue and does not show the date of birth or death.  However, Bridget Kilrain does appear in the Findagrave database.  She died on 14 July 1910 and is buried in the same cemetery.  Her memorial is not linked to her husband’s.

A search of the Ancestry.com database (National Archives), Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, 1879-1903, produced no matching results.  However, if the stone was requested after 1903, it would not appear in this database.

A search of Newspapers.com for the time period 1900 to 1910 resulted in no matching obituary for either James or Bridget, although various spellings of the surname were attempted.

At the time of this writing, the best estimate of the death of James Kilrain would appear to be between the beginning of 1904 (post Headstones database) to about December 1907 (pre widow’s pension application).

Of course, the actual death date as well as proof of death should be in the pension application files, which were not consulted for this blog post.

There are still many unanswered questions about this veteran who was initially assumed to be “James Kelhain” and is now known to be James Kilrain.  However, the research results in this blog post offer a springboard to to learn more about him.

Comments are invited.




George Jury of Halifax – 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on June 20, 2016


George Jury was born on 2 March 1840 in Pennsylvania and died on 19 May 1912 in Halifax Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. During the Civil War he served in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, as a Private.  After the Civil War, he applied for a pension on 25 September 1890.   He is buried at Long’s Cemetery, just outside the Halifax Borough.  After his death, his widow, Mary E. [Baker] Jury applied for benefits.  Both George and his widow received those benefits, which were collected until their respective deaths. Mary died on 30 March 1935 and is buried next to her husband at Long’s Cemetery.


Previously on this blog, it was mentioned that the name of George Jury appears in the Halifax Bicentennial Book as a Civil War soldier from the Halifax area. He also appears in the veterans’ cemetery list for Long’s Cemetery found in that same book.  Another soldier named George W. Jury was previously profiled here.  He served in the 47th Pennsylvania Infantry.  It is possible that that George W. Jury was born in Halifax Township because he was baptized at Fetterhoff’s Church, but the family moved to Perry County by 1850 and after the Civil War, he moved to Kansas where he died.  In the profile of George W. Jury, it was noted that if he was born in Halifax Township, then he too belongs in the Halifax list.  No proof has been seen of his actual place of birth although his obituary which appeared in a Kansas newspaper states that he was born in Perry County.  In any event, the two Georges were very close in age and were descended from the same pioneer settler of the Lykens Valley area, Abraham Jury.

The ancestry of George Jury, 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry:

Parents:  George Bretz Jury (1799-1884) and Anna Marie Shoop (1800-1850)

Grandparents: Abraham Jury (1753, Switzerland – 1805) and Elizabeth Bretz (1763-1829)

The ancestry of George W. Jury, 47th Pennsylvania Infantry:

Parents:  Simon S. Jury (1815-1894) and Juliann Harman (1819-  ?)

Grandparents:  John George Jury (1794-1869) and Susanna Cooper (1800-1836)

Great Grandparents:  Abraham Jury (1753, Switzerland – 1805) and Elizabeth Bretz (1763-1829)

Therefore, George Jury and George W. Jury were 1st cousins, once removed.

Pension Documents

Several selected pages of the pension application of George Jury (1840-1912) of Halifax, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, are presented to show what was required of a veteran to prove that his disability was incurred during the Civil War.  However, it should be noted that the original application was submitted after the pension laws were relaxed to allow “old age” be a sufficient reason for a benefit claim.

His Deposition

Four pages of the original deposition follow.  Click on any thumbnail to enlarge the page.



In page 1, George Jury makes the claim that while on march from Yorktown, Virginia, to Hagerstown, Maryland and Warrenton Junction, in July 1863, he got “sore feet” as a result of the “dusty hot weather.”






In page 2, George Jury notes that he has had sore feet ever since his discharge and that the sore feet “has disabled me from the performance of manual labor.”







In page 3, he makes the claim that there is “pain in them that I can’t sleep… [and] can’t walk much.”  He also claims that he does get some relief from “rabbits fat” and other liniments purchased at stores, but the relief is only temporary and that the best remedy “is not to walk at all.”







Finally, in Page 4 of the Deposition, George estimates that the “sore feet” have made him “about one half disabled” and “my sore feet have been about the same each year ever since discharge.”

He signed the Deposition himself.





Throughout the Deposition, George Jury gives the names of others who served with him in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, as well as neighbors in the area of Halifax Township who could testify in support of his claim.

Summary Declaration


On a summary page received by the Pension Office on 23 October 1891, a second disability was given as “diarrhea” which occurred after his return from the army, and although alleviated, he had a “pain across my abdomen” which at times was “so severe I am unable to to do any work.”  On this summary page additional information is given about his military service.





Marriage Information


Mary Jury had to prove that she was married to George Jury when she applied for widow’s benefits.  Although there was no “official” record available, she stated that her maiden name was Mary E. Baker, and she married to George on 19 October 1865 at Millersburg by the Rev. Francis Lahr.





Widow’s Declaration


On the “Declaration for Widow’s Pension,” Mary stated that she had no living children under 16 years of age.  She also had to repeat much of the information about her husband’s military service.  Genealogical records on Ancestry.com show that George and Mary had at least two known children:  William J. Jury (1871-1949) and Harvey Grant Jury (1886-1984).






Pennsylvania Death Certificate

JuryGeorge-PADeathCert-001The Pennsylvania Death Certificate of George Jury states that he died of “valvular heart disease.” From:  Ancestry.com.





Pension application papers are from the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  The Pension Index Card is from Ancestry.com.

Tower City Veteran Discovered in Perry County Cemetery

Posted By on June 17, 2016

A blog post here on 16 May 2016, Was Robert Hunter of Tower City a Civil War Veteran?, has received a response from a regular research contributor, Steve Williams, who pointed out that he believes that the same Robert Hunter mentioned in the 1890 Veterans’ Census for Tower City is buried in the Hunter’s Valley Cemetery, Liverpool, Perry County, Pennsylvania as noted in the Findagrave Memorial.  Liverpool is on the western side of the Susquehanna River and across from Millersburg.

The Findagrave Memorial has information contributed by Civil War author and researcher Dennis Brandt, who also is responsible for the York and Adams County Civil War Veterans Data Base, which is found on the website of the York County Heritage Trust. Information from Dennis has helped to uncover much about Civil War soldiers in the Lykens Valley area because of the interconnectedness of the areas surrounding the Susquehanna River.  In addition to his work with the York County Heritage Trust, he supplies much of his research to Findagrave.  And, on numerous occasions he has submitted information directly to this project.

Steve Williams noted that the 1890 Census information was incorrect in that Robert Hunter did not serve in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company I, during the years indicated, 1862-1863, but rather served in the 173rd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company I, from 6 November 1862 to 17 August 1863. It was mentioned in the previously named blog post that he was not found in any 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry records.

Dennis Brandt noted in the Findagrave Memorial that Robert Hunter also served in the 208th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company I,as a Private, from 9 September 1864 through 1 June 1865.

As a basis for concluding that the Robert Hunter buried at Liverpool is the same person as the veteran identified in the 1890 Tower City Census, the Pension Index Card from Ancestry.com was referenced:


Susan Hunter, the widow, applied for pension benefits on 22 July 1901.  Susan is also named by Dennis Brandt as the wife of Robert Hunter, but with unknown maiden name.  By checking the census returns from 1860 through 1880, both Robert Hunter and Susan Hunter, with children are in Buffalo Township, Perry County, in 1860 and 1870, where he is working as a blacksmith.  However, in 1880, Robert and Susan are living in Shamokin, Northumberland County, where Robert is working as a coal miner.

Susan was still alive in 1901 when Robert Hunter died.  The Pension Index Card, shown below from Fold3, gives his date of death as 28 June 1901.


Was Susan with Robert Hunter in 1890 when he was enumerated in Tower City?


From the 1890 Census Substitute for Schuylkill County, shown above from Ancestry.com, there is a Robert Hunter, age 53, a blacksmith, living in Tower City.  However, the spouse’s name is given as Amelia, not Susan.  Perhaps Susan’s middle name was Amelia?  The age for Robert Hunter is correct, the occupation is correct, and Tower City is correct.

It is not presently known when Susan died or where she died.  She has no Findagrave Memorial.  No Pennsylvania Death Certificate has been located for her.  Known census returns for her give her birthplace as Maryland, so it is possible that after her husband’s death, she returned to Maryland.  There is a Susan A. Hunter, widow of Robert, named in Baltimore City directories into the early 1940s, but additional information is needed to determine if this is the same person.

In the absence of a maiden name, it will be difficult to trace her.  The maiden name should most likely be found in the widow’s pension application file, available from the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  However, Dennis Brandt, who may have consulted that file, noted that Susan’s maiden name was “unknown.”  Another other possibility in locating her maiden name is to trace the five children of Susan and Robert Hunter to see if any died in Pennsylvania and if their death certificates give a maiden name for their mother.

The five children are:  Charles Wesley Hunter, born about 1859; Valeria Hunter, born about 1861; Harvey M. Hunter, born about 1864; Mary E. Hunter, born about 1867; and Emma C. Hunter, born about 1869.

Harvey M. Hunter died on 14 February 1938 in Newport, Perry County.  Oh his death certificate, his father is Robert Hunter and his mother is Sarah Sheesley.  Sarah’s birthplace is given as Pennsylvania.  Thus far, this is the only Pennsylvania Death Certificate located for one of the children and the information on it is not conclusive.

Susan’s death date could also be in the pension application file, as the time her benefits were terminated.

Perhaps a blog reader of family member can offer additional information?

While it is fairly conclusive that the Robert Hunter found in the 1890 Veterans’ Census is the same person who served in the 173rd Pennsylvania Infantry and is buried at Hunter’s Valley Cemetery in Liverpool, some of the pieces of information cannot be reconciled, leaving some uncertainty, and other information is needed.  If it can be concluded without a doubt, then the current Tower City veterans need to add him to their list of Civil War veterans and honor him by name on their local memorial.