Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Gratz During the Civil War – Franklin Fidler House

Posted By on November 29, 2011

At the west end of Gratz on the north side of Market Street is a block of properties that were part of the original Simon Gratz subdivision.  Most prominent of these in approaching Market Street from Specktown Road is at Lot #81 (northwest corner of intersection of Specktown Road and West Market Street).  West of this property is Lot #83 which presently contains no structure and which throughout the years has been associated with Lot #81.  According to property transfer information, there was a yellow house on Lot #81 when Emanuel Fry received it from from the estate of his father, Conrad Fry, in 1830.  This is the present house on the lot which therefore dates pre-1830.  Emanuel Fry was a merchant who kept this house until he sold it to Jonas Laudenslager in 1847 and then left the area.

The earliest available picture of this house on Lot #81 is from the mid 20th century and is shown above.

Jonas Laudenslager (1825-1899)

Some of Jonas Laudenslager‘s biographical information has been previously given in the post entitled, “The Gratztown Militia and the Home Guards.”  Jonas was an officer in the Home Guards and later participated in the 36th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, the emergency force that answered the call of Gov. Andrew Curtin in 1863.  Jonas was a merchant at the time he owned Lot #81, but he sold the property after only a few years to Jacob Laudenslager.  However, records from 1858 indicate that Jonas was living here, perhaps as a tenant, and conducting business as well as serving as Justice of the Peace for Gratz.  Thus, during several of the years of the Civil War, this house was the location where residents went to make legal transactions and get legal documents.  No doubt, many marriages were also performed here during the Civil War.  The experience that Jonas had here in Gratz led to his move to New Ulm, Minnesota, in 1863, where he became a district judge and lived out the remainder of his life.

The property was sold in early 1864 to Simon Hartman, who after holding it for less than one month, sold it to Franklin Fidler(1835-1912).  Fidler, a master house carpenter, retained the property until his death.  His heirs sold it in 1913 to the Brosius family. In 1818, it was conveyed to the Yoder family.

Franklin Fidler declared that he was a Civil War veteran in the 1890 census for Gratz, but did not give a regiment or dates of services.  No Pension Index Card has been found for him to confirm his service in any particular regiment.  The name “Franklin Fiddler” does appear in the records of the 36th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, as a Corporal – most likely the same person who owned this property in the later years of the Civil War, and there is a Franklin Fidler who served in the 42nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company K – but this is probably a different one because the service is concurrent with that of the 36th Pennsylvania Infantry.  Clarification of Franklin Fidler‘s Civil War service is still being sought.  The Franklin Fidler who lived in Gratz married Susannah Kissinger and both are buried in Gratz Union Cemetery (see grave marker shown above).  There is a G.A.R. star in the ground next to his stone which can be seen more clearly by clicking on the picture to enlarge it.

This is part 27 of an ongoing series on Gratz during the Civil War.  Some of the information for this post was taken from the book A Comprehensive History of the Town of Gratz Pennsylvania.


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