Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Descendants of Philip Keiser Jr. in the Civil War (Part 3 of 3)

Posted By on October 1, 2011

Today’s post will focus on two of the middle children of Philip Keiser Jr.:  (1) Elizabeth Keiser (1823-1882); and (2) Jacob Keiser (1828-?) – and their children, Edmund Umholtz (1843-1882) and Ellen V. Keiser (1852-1922).  [Click on chart above to enlarge it].  Two days ago, the post focused on the oldest son of Philip Keiser Jr. (1800-1839).  That post gave the Civil War service of Daniel Keiser (1820-1877) and three of his sons, Henry Keiser (1840-1933), William Keiser (1844-1921), and George Keiser (1846-1863).  Yesterday the focus was on Philip’s youngest son, Jonas Keiser (1834- ?).

Elizabeth Keiser Umholtz (1823-1882)

Elizabeth Keiser (1823-1882) married John Umholtz (1818-1888).  Elizabeth and John had one son, Edmon L. Umholtz (1843-1882).  Edmon served in the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H, as a Musician from 13 September 1864 to 30 May 1865.  John’s grandmother was a Hoffman, and like Elizabeth, was a descendant of Johann Peter Hoffman, Lykens Valley pioneer.

Edmon Umholtz (1843-1882)

During the Civil War, Edmon Umholtz married Catherine Buffington (1844-1877), a cousin in another line descended from Johann Peter Hoffman.  Two children were born during the war:  Milton Umholtz (1861-1877) and Henry Oscar Umholtz (1863-1950).  Then Edmon and Catherine parted ways and Catherine re-married to Aaron Hopple (1847-1891), a plasterer from the Lykens Valley area and also a Civil War veteran of the 192nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H.  Catherine had four sons with Aaron, all of whom died before their third birthdays.  Then she died in 1877.  Aaron re-married to Ida Bartlett and had three more children.  He then spent his last days in the asylum for the insane in Harrisburg, where he died in 1891.

Elizabeth [Keiser] Umholtz‘s brother, Jacob Keiser (1828-?) served in the military in the pre-Civil War period.  In 1852, he married Catherine Sheetz and a short time later a daughter, Ellen V. Keiser (1822-1922) was born.  Then he divorced Catherine.  Some family members say Jacob went to California.  Army enlistment records show him joining the 1st U.S. Cavalry in 1855 and serving in the west, including Kansas.  He then re-enlisted in 1860, just before the Civil War began and must have had second thoughts, because the records indicate that he deserted just before the war began.  Not much is known of his life after the service and it is fairly certain that he never returned to the Lykens Valley area.

Ellen Keiser Umholtz (1852-1922).

After Edmon Umholtz and his wife separated, it didn’t take Edmon too long to marry again -this time to Ellen Keiser, the 16 year old daughter of his uncle Jacob Keiser who had disappeared from the scene as explained above.  Edmon and Ellen settled in Gratz and began to raise a family.  Six children were born to the couple before 1882, the year that tragedy struck.

After the Civil War, Edmon Umholtz operated a tavern and inn in Gratz.  In December 1881, he was appointed an appraiser for the county and had to travel to Harrisburg and other areas of the state on county business.  On returning from a trip in January 1882, he fell ill and died shortly thereafter.  Before it was discovered that he had smallpox, much of the town was exposed to the disease through contact with him before he died and by attending his funeral.  By the time it was discovered that he had died of smallpox, two of his young children had died, his mother Elizabeth fell ill with the disease (she also died of it two months later) and several townspeople also died, including some of the pallbearers.  The undertaker and postmaster became ill but survived the epidemic.  Ellen [Keiser] Umholtz, who did not get the disease, was quite shaken by the experience and decided to leave Gratz with her young daughter Carrie Umholtz who also survived.

Ellen then re-married William Elias “Eli” Dilfield (1845-1915) of Tremont, Schuylkill County, who had served as a saddler in the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Company B, from 22 February 1864 through 28 July 1865, service time interrupted only long enough for a broken leg to heal – the leg broken as a result of a fall from a horse.  At the time she married Dilfield, he was operating a hotel in Tremont.  Dilfield had been previously married to a woman named Sallie and had four children.  It is not known what happened to Sallie.  It appears from the records that Ellen had at least one child with Eli Dilfield.  But he apparently helped raise Ellen’s child Carrie Umholtz.  Later, Ellen, Eli and Carrie moved to Reading where all of them eventually died.  Near the end of her life, Carrie Umholtz, who never married, changed her name to Carrie Dilfield. She is buried in the Charles Evans Cemetery next to her mother Ellen and step-father Elias.

This is the final part of a three part series on the descendants of Philip Keiser Jr. who were veterans of the Civil War.  The project is always seeking information on Civil War veterans who have a connection to the defined geographic area of study.  Submissions are very welcome – especially stories and pictures!

Information for this post was taken from the files of the project.  There is a more complete genealogy of the Keiser family in the book, A Comprehensive History of the Town of Gratz Pennsylvania.  Pension Index Cards are from Ancestry.com.


4 Responses to “Descendants of Philip Keiser Jr. in the Civil War (Part 3 of 3)”

  1. Rarion R. Keiser Jr. says:

    I like the stories about Jacob Keiser family. Where they are buried?

    • kelley keiser says:

      hi my jacob keiser is my ggg grandfather and his wife is mary malone keiser znd both are buried in eberhard cemetery in south whitley indiana in columbia county township.john keiser is my gg grandfather so i am related to most of these keisers would love to get in contact with anyone who may be related to me.

  2. Daniel Reese says:

    Such an interesting article. My great great grandfather is Elias Dilfield and was wondering where you were able to find so much information about him. I knew he was injured during Sherman’s March to Atlanta during the Civil War and ended up being discharged from the cavalry. My parents and ancestry.com can only go so far.

  3. kelley keiser says:

    my jacob keiser is my gggg grand father who is buried in south whitley cemetery in south whitley indiana along with his wife mary malone all of jacobs family are buried in eberhard cemetery right down the road from whitley cemetery. this is on my fathers side of the family.

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