Posted By Norman Gasbarro on November 27, 2010
The “Gratz Book,” as it is commonly known, remains the best available published source on the Civil War veterans of the Lykens Valley. More than ten years in the making, this first, great publishing project of the Gratz Historical Society was released in 1997. Officially titled, A Comprehensive History of the Town of Gratz Pennsylvania, its 914 pages are crammed with facts, stories, genealogies and pictures telling the story of the history of Gratz and its people. It is still “in print” and still available!
First, a few words about its value for the Civil War Research Project.
In a section entitled “The Civil War Period,” the book tells of the Gratztown Militia, later becoming the core of the Company C of the 36th Pennsylvania Regiment or the “Home Guards” and gives its roster;
Company F of the 10th Pennsylvania Regiment (3 months service) which was recruited at Lykens 0n 26 April 1861;
the story of Company I, 177th Pennsylvania and its roster and Capt. Benjamin Evitts;
Company B of the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry recruited in Dauphin County, October 1861;
Company A of the 50th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, recruited in Schuylkill County in August 1861;
Company G of the 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry; of Company H of the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry; and a section listing “other local veterans of the Civil War.”
There are brief biographies of veterans David Bellon, Simon Blyler, Cyrene T. Bowman, Sinary Erdman, Daniel Hoffa, William Rothermel, Jacob Shade, Joel W. Strohecker, Edward F. Wiest, and Samuel Schwalm.
There is the complete text of a program given by local Civil War enthusiast, and Society volunteer, Ned Weaver in October 1996, on Company A of the 50th Pennsylvania – told as only Ned can do it! [Note: this program is also available for video viewing at the Society. See library video catalog].
In addition to the Civil War section there are stories, genealogies and pictures throughout the book. Much of this material was gleaned from the Civil War pension files that were developed more than twenty years ago by a society volunteer, Margaret Dowling, who lived in the Washington, D.C., area and volunteered to copy pension files at the National Archives. Lois Schoffstall, current Gratz Historical Museum Director, and one of the authors of the “Gratz Book”, recalls that every week or so a package would arrive from Margaret – a package filled with Civil War records and stories – too much material for the “Gratz Book.” But much of the material was used anyway, because it contained birth, marriage and death records – for the veterans and their familes as well as stories describing the various maladies the veterans received as a result of the war.
The genealogies in the book are done in a compact form and are connected to each of the building lots in Gratz. The original town layout is given and the history of the property is given both by name of the owner and genealogy of the owner. Because families moved in and out of Gratz, the book has far reaching implications into the Lykens Valley and beyond. The genealogy is usually continued as much to the present as possible, whether the family stayed in Gratz or moved elsewhere in the state or to Kansas., Illinois, or Ohio. In the post-Civil War period, there were Civil War veterans living on nearly every described property in Gratz.
There is also section which give a sense as to what life was like in the Civil War era – farming, mining, manufacturing, and other ways of earning a living are included.
There is an all-inclusive name index which makes it east to locate anyone who had any association with the town of Gratz.
With the holidays coming soon, this book would make a great gift for anyone who has roots in the Lykens Valley!
Click below for ordering information.
A Comprehensive History of the Town of Gratz Pennsylvania (1997).An Encyclopedic history of the town of Gratz, PA including its inhabitants, businesses, buildings,and organizations from 1805 to 1997. Few if any other local histories are this comprehensive or full of facts and photographs. Detailed family genealogies of almost every family from every house in the town throughout its history integrated throughout the narration make this book a unique “town genealogy.” Clothbound. 914 pages. $75.00 (plus $8.50 shipping).