Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Gratz During the Civil War – James Novinger House

Posted By on January 13, 2012

A Swiss immigrant, Jean Pierre Williard, purchased this property known as Lot #15 in 1818.  He had originally come to America to fight for the British in the Revolution but changed sides and fought for the Colonials.  After the war he settled in Lykens Township.  The lot remained in the Williard (or Willier) family, but unoccupied until the 1850s when a house was built for Simon Miller, a plasterer, who had purchased the lot in 1852.  In 1855, a tenant, W. H. Reedy (probably the son of Leonard Reedy), was living here.  Then, Adam Novinger 1833-1859) used the property for his blacksmith shop.  In 1859, Adam and his wife conveyed the land and buildings to James Novinger (1829-?), a shoemaker, who was the Civil War era owner.   It is not known whether James conducted his shoemaking trade from these premises or he worked elsewhere in the Gratz area.

The earliest picture available of the original house is from the mid twentieth century.  The house, without any additions, resembles the original house built just before the Civil War.

James Novinger did not serve in the Civil War although he was of an age to have served.  It is possible, but not proven definitely, that his brother was the Adam Novinger from whom he purchased this property.  More information is sought on James Novinger, particularly whether he was married and if he had children.

After the Civil War, James Novinger sold the property to Jonas Kissinger Jr. who was also known as Jorias Kissinger (1840-1882).  Jorias was featured in a prior post on the 177th Pennsylvania Infantry as a Civil War veteran.  Jorias and his wife probably did not live here because they soon sold it to Elizabeth Troutman (1819-1889), wife of David Clark (1808-1874).  After David Clark died, Elizabeth married Simon Hepner (1820-1901).  Eventually, in 1890, this property was sold to Aaron Ritzman (1858-1928).

This is part 30 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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