Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Ulman Brothers in the Civil War

Posted By on January 10, 2011

5 Ulman Brothers – Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 1850

By most accounts, Lazarus Ulman was born about 1793 in Germany.  One account says he was born in Russia and his native language was Yiddish.  He emigrated to the United States sometime before 1828 and married Lydia Abrahams, who was born about 1808 in Pennsylvania. At the time their oldest son Joseph was born in 1828, the family was probably living in Berrysburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, where the family appears in the 1830 Census.  In 1838, a young son died and was buried in Berrysburg.  Some time after 1838 but before the 1840 Census, the family moved to Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.  By 1850, the family had again re-located, this time to Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, and Lazarus was working as a merchant – his oldest son Joseph was working with him in his business, and two of his younger sons, Edwin and Hezekiah, were working as clerks.  In 1860, the family moved back to Williamsport where Lazarus declared that he was a butcher.  Son Edwin was living at home and was a dentist.  Son Leon was working as a clerk.  The youngest son Nathan was living at home and no occupation was given.  Civil War service records have been located for all five sons.  It is believed that the three oldest – Joseph, Edwin and Hezekiah – were born in or around Berrysburg.  The two youngest sons – Leon and Nathan – were probably born in Williamsport.  Dates of death for Lazarus Ulman and Lydia [Abrahams] Ulman have not been found nor has their place of burial.  It is possible that they Lazarus died before 1870 because he  not been located in the 1870 Census; Lydia was living in Philadelphia in 1880 as a widow and her son Leon was living in her household.

Joseph Ezra Ulman (1828-1891) was probably born in Berrysburg, although one account says he was born in Rehresburg.  He was living in Berrysburg in 1840.  He attended a private academy in Ithaca, New York, and later studied law in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.  As previously mentioned, he was a merchant, along with his father, in 1850 in Wilkes-Barre.  On 17 February 1857, he married Frances A. McCloskey, and to that union four children were born.  In February 1862, less than a year after the beginning of the Civil War, Joseph E. Ulman formed an independent company called “Ulman’s Independent Battery“, made himself Captain, and offered services as a light artillery regiment.  However, the official history of the Union Army indicates the volunteers were ordered to serve as infantry – an offer they declined – and the group was formally discharged in March 1862.  On 24 August 1864, Joseph was mustered in to the 207th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, as a Private.  He served until 31 May 1865.  However, at muster out in Alexandria, Virginia, he was “not accounted for,” probably because he claimed he was in the hospital at that time.  Joseph’s later years were mostly spent in misery from afflictions contracted during the war – at least according to his pension application and his repeated appeals for additional monthly allotments.  His daughter Nellie Ulman was an invalid and required specialized care.  Joseph Ulman‘s  obituary states that he was Burgess of Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, from 1872-1874, where he was practicing law.  By 1880, he was still an attorney, but living in Wilkes-Barre.  By 1890 he was located in Millersburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  Joseph died in 1891 and is buried in St. John’s (Hill) Cemetery in Berrysburg.

Joseph E. Ulman (1828-1891)

Edwin S. Ulman was born about 1832, probably in Berrysburg.  In 1850 he was working as a clerk in Wilkes-Barre but by 1860, he was a dentist in Williamsport.  There is some evidence that he joined “Ulman’s Independent Battery” which was formed by his brother Joseph.  He was given the rank of “Junior First Lieutenant.”  As previously mentioned, the regiment was discharged because it refused to serve as infantry.  Prior to the venture with Ulman’s Independent Battery, Edwin had joined the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, as a Private, 24 April 1861.  He was mustered out on 31 July 1861, having completed the required three months service.  Some time after the Civil War, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri,where he practiced dentistry, owned property, and rented to boarders.  In 1880, he had two residences in St. Louis, one of which was occupied by a Methodist minister and his family.  Edwin may have married and may have had children, the information about which may be found in a pension application which was submitted in 1892 by a “guardian” on behalf of a minor or minors.  His death date and place could not be located, nor could his grave, although it would be a fair guess to say he died in 1892 in Missouri as that was the year and place of the pension application.

Hezekiah Charles Ulman was born in 1833 or 1834, probably in Berrysburg.  In 1850 he was working as a clerk for his father who was a merchant.  In 1860, he was practicing law in Jersey Shore, Lycoming Co., Pennsylvania.   During the Civil War he served in the 34th Pennsylvania (also known as the 5th Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry), Company A, as Captain.  After the Civil War, Hezekiah moved to New York City and became a well known attorney.  It was there that he came to be interested in mining prospects in Denver, Colorado, and by 1880, he had re-located there.  In 1881, he married Ella Adelaide Marsh – his third wife and her third husband  – and in 1883, a son was born to them, Douglas Elton Ulman.  The son became an actor and took the name Douglas Fairbanks.  He was one of the leading stars in the early years of motion pictures and one of the founders of United Artists and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.   Eventually, Hezekiah returned to New York and he died in Brooklyn in 1915.

Hezekiah C. Ulman (1834-1915)

Leon A. Ulman was born about 1840, probably in Williamsport.  In 1860, he was living with his parents in Williamsport and working as a clerk.  His Civil War service consisted of three months in the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, as a Private, from 24 April 1861 to 31 July 1861.  This was the same company in which his older brother Edwin also served.  Later, Leon joined the 131st Pennsylvania Infantry from 12 August 1862 to 23 May 1863.  During his life, Leon worked as a salesman and as an insurance agent.  Based on his military service, Leon applied for and received a pension.  He spent most of the years after the war living in Philadelphia, first with his widowed mother until she died, and then as a boarder or lodger.  It was Leon who reported to the 1920 Census-taker that his father had been born in Russia and spoke Yiddish.   In 1921 Leon Ulman was admitted to the Veterans Home in Hampton, Virginia, where he named his sister Rosa [Ulman] Jacobson of Chicago as his closest surviving relative.  He probably died around that time.

Nathan A. Ulman was born about 1844, probably in Williamsport.  During the Civil War he served in the 3rd Pennsylvania Infantry (also known as the Militia of 1862), Company K, as a Private, from 11 September 1862 to 25 September 1862, when he was discharged.   Since his service was less than three months, he did not qualify for a pension.  Nevertheless, he is found in the records and qualifies as a veteran.  Nathan became a lawyer, moved to New York City, and in 1881 married Annie W. ? and at least one child, a son William Ulman, was born to them.  It is not known if he had much contact with his older brother Hezekiah who was also practicing law in New York around 1900.  The last census in which Nathan has been located is 1910, and he probably died some time thereafter.

Whether this family was the usual or the unusual in that all five brothers ended up in the military during the Civil War remains to be seen.  The interest in the family to this Civil War Project lies in its residency in Berrysburg for a time around the year 1830.  But not much is known about the family during that period.  Only one of the brothers is buried in a Berrysburg cemetery – although three were probably born in or around Berrysburg.

In a later post I’ll examine further two of the descendants of the Ulman brothers – Douglas Fairbanks (son of Hezekiah), who became rich and famous – and his first cousin, Nellie Ulman (daughter of Joseph), who lived in poverty and as an invalid.  Although born after the Civil War, both had connections to the Civil War.  The stories are interesting but quite different and they connect to the Lykens Valley through their fathers who were born there.

The portion of the 1850 Census from Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania is from Ancestry.com.  Other information for this post was taken from the pension files of Joseph Ulman which are available at the Civil War Research Project and from general research conducted using member trees from Ancestry.com, much of which can be verified through census records.


2 Responses to “Ulman Brothers in the Civil War”

  1. David L. Richards says:

    Edwin S. Ulman died on 12 Aug 1892 in St. Louis, MO and his remains were buried in nearby Bellfontaine Cemetery. Edwin was residing at 3507 Olive Street and on his death certificate, age was listed as 60y 7m 15d. From that can be extrapolated a birthdate as on/about 28 Dec 1831. (PS: Great story, thanks for posting!)

  2. […] name matches to Captain Joseph E. Ulman’s independent battery organized in February 1862.  This battery was not accepted as artillery and disbanded when told to reorganize as infantry, in Mar… Why it was still on the rolls is a 150-year-old question for the […]

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