Posted By Norman Gasbarro on January 25, 2011
In 1968, Tower City and Porter Township in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, celebrated its centennial. The “History Book Committee” was chaired by Howard G. Stutzman whose strong qualifications for the job were given in a brief biography on one of the book’s opening pages: attorney, historian, civil leader, churchman, public speaker, political leader, World War II Navy veteran, active member of American Legion, charter member and past president of Tower City-Porter Township Rotary Club.
Notably, Stutzman chose to have a section of the book on “The War Veterans,” beginning with several pages on the Civil War. Two pictures of Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) members are featured, with most of the persons in the pictures identified. Three is also a list of known Civil War veterans with an asterisk next to the names of those who did not survive the war.
One common error repeated in this book is that the G.A.R. members who were pictured were said to be wearing their Civil War uniforms. The “uniforms” worn by the veterans were actually the official garb of the G.A.R., not the uniforms worn by the men in the war. The “star” chest medal worn by the veterans was the official “badge” of the G.A.R. and the emblem on their caps was also of the G.A.R. and not of any official Pennsylvania regiment or U.S. military regiment.
Another error (of omission) is noted when reading the biographies in the final section of the book. Charlemagne Tower, who was the founder of Tower City, formed a company of volunteers in the early days of the Civil War. He captained the company and the biography credits him with taking part in some skirmishes before the company was discharged on 26 July 1861. Later, he became Provost Marshal for Schuylkill County and was responsible for conscripting men into military service. Tower’s name does not appear in the list of Civil War veterans in the centennial history.
The text of the section on the Civil War follows, including the names of the veterans:
From earliest times our community’s men responded in great numbers to the defense of our country in time of war. There were some early settlers who must have served in the Revolution, but records of substantiation are not available.
During the War Between the States almost half of the able bodied male citizens of Porter Township responded to Lincoln’s call for volunteers. Some were killed in battle and others died of wounds and illness. Those who returned home became leaders in this community in all phases of its development.
A year after Lee surrendered at Appomattox the veterans of the Union Army organized the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was long a potent political force in the post Civil War period and not until the 20th Century did its power fade. A local post was inaugurated here a few years after the war’s end and called the “Captain William Thompson Post” in honor of the son of Alexander Thompson who died in service. The Post meetings were held in the P.O.S. of A. building until the membership dwindled by deaths. These veterans were solely responsible for the proper observance of Memorial Day and the annual parades were always led by the veterans until the last survivors passed away. Henry A. Updegrave was long the Grand Marshall, dressed in his army uniform astride a bay horse. for all those who served in the most costly civil war in the world’s history. The
When membership was at its height the Post held encampments each summer in the groves around the community, listening to orations, adopting resolutions and highlighted by a mammoth fireworks display.
The official record of the proceedings of the past are lost, so an accurate list of veterans is not available, but below are the names of all Civil War Veterans buried in our local cemeteries:
William Adams — David Alspach — Henry J. Alspach — William Bailey — Jacob Boyer — Isaac Brown — Esias Brown — I. H. Campbell — Isaac Carl — Conrad H. Caslow — Benjamin Charlesworth —Jacob Clouser —Christian Crous — Henry Culbert — Philip Deitrich — Joseph Ehrhart — I. J. Eisenhower — William Forman — Francis Fox — John Fox — Isaac Frantz — Jacob Gamber —William Goodman — Jesse Grim —- H. O. Grim — *Isaac Hand — Josiah Hand — Fred Heckert — William Henry — Samuel H. Hepler — John Hoffman — John Horn — John Hornish — Benjamin Houtz — *Isaac Houtz — George Irving — John Jones — William Jones — Paul Kessler — Harry Keubler — Edward King — William Klinger — Charles Knecht — Josiah Knorr — Lewis Kopp — Lewis Krebs — John Lebo — William Long — Peter Lucas — Harrison Manwiller — Charles Maurer — Isaac Mease — John Messner — *Aaron Miller — Daniel Miller — *Jeremiah Miller — Jonathan Miller — *Edwin Moyer — Isaac Moyer — George Myers — Hazelet McElwain — Henry Neidlinger — Thomas Nolen — William Owens — Abe Reed — Joseph Reed — Henry W. Reedt — William H. Reedy — Jonas Reigle — Frank Reiner — L. Reinoehl — Peter Rhoads — Henry Rishe — Edward Robson — Henry Rowe — Elias Schell — Samuel Schell — Samuel Schwenk — Christian Seibert — Richard Shutters — Henry Sponsler — *William Sponslor — George K. Stoudt — J. W. Strohecker — David Thompson — *William Thompson — Aaron Updegrove — Daniel Updegrave — Henry K. Updegrave — John Updegrove — Solomon Updegrove — John Warner — G. W. Wagner — Henry Witmer — Isaac Wolf — John Wolf — Benjamin Workman —Jacob Workman — Joseph Zeiter — William Zimmerman
*died in service
The records of the Tower City G.A.R., like those of many other communities throughout our geographic area of study, were lost over the years and this 1968 list of veterans had to be re-constructed from the names of those who were buried in local cemeteries. Those natives who are buried elsewhere who left the Tower City-Porter Township area at some point after the Civil War or those who only lived in the area for a short time, are probably not included in the list. Again, this points out the difficulties of compiling a master list for this Civil War Research Project. In addition, there are several names on the list that are very commonly found in the surrounding area (e.g., John Hoffman) and identifying which one’s records match the one on this list proves to be difficult. The regimental names, companies and rank of the veterans are also not included.
Fortunately, a few of the veterans are described further in the extensive “Biographies” section, but for most of the veterans in the list, a reconstruction of their lives and Civil War service has only begun. All persons with information on any of the veterans are urged to contribute it to the project. The types of information being sought are listed in the Civil War Research Project description.
Information is being sought on any of the above-named Civil war veterans as well any others who may not have have been included in the list but have an association with Tower City or Porter Township at any time in their lives. Also, if anyone has any information on the “unknown” G.A.R. members in the group photo, it will be gratefully received!
Information for this post was found in A Centennial History of Tower City and Porter Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania (1968). Tomorrow’s post will focus on Charlemagne Tower who was omitted from the veterans list, but was included later in the volume.