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From Our Files – Local Historian Ned Weaver Speaks to Group

Posted By on October 9, 2012

The following article was found in the Gratz Historical Society files about a program Ned Weaver presented in the 1990s.  The photographs that appeared with the article are in the Civil War collection of the Gratz Historical Society and are re-produced for this post from the originals.

Gratz Historical Society Learns of Local Civil War History

Local Historian Ned Weaver Speaks to Group

by Danelle Carvell

Gratz — Ned Weaver reads a lot of books about the Civil War, but he never thought he would be writing and speaking about it.  The self-described “history freak” recently presented a program about local men who fought in the Civil War.  During a meeting of the Gratz Historical Society, Weaver described the battles and hardships of Company A, 50th Regiment Infantry, “The Pennsylvania Volunteers.” [50th Pennsylvania Infantry].

“I did a lot of research, and it got very interesting,” said Weaver.  “I found out that the 50th Regiment was formed at Harrisburg and Pottsville by people from Gratz, Valley View, Klingerstown, and the Lykens Valley.”

When Weaver was first named for the task by the society’s museum director Lois Schoffstall, he was skeptical.  “I said, I don’t know what you’re talking about.  I had a great-grandfather in the war but he was from Lebanon.”

Through his research, Weaver was able to pinpoint ten men who have relation to the area.  “I wrote individual pieces on each of them and listed all the battled of the 50th Regiment,” he said.  “It became amazing at what these men were involved with.”

Weaver learned that the men probably were not drafted, but volunteered.  They had to walk to Millersburg to catch a train to Harrisburg’s Camp Curtin, where they arrived at about the 19th to 21st of August 1861.  When their first enlistment was served in 1864, many of them re-enlisted and served to the end of the war.

“By 1866, a lot of ladies were sitting around at the barn dances looking for partners,” said Weaver.  The war had claimed the lives of 620,000 men.  One of those men is buried in the Sacramento Cemetery, and is the great-grandfather of Irwin Klinger of Elizabethville.

Jacob Shade (1833-1864)

Private Jacob Shade enlisted into the 50th Regiment at Pottsville in February 1864.  He survived the Wilderness, Nye River, Spottsylvania, and all the other Virginia battles including the big bang at Petersburg.  But a rebel musket ball brought Shade down at Poplar Grove Church on 30 September 1864.  He was 30 years old.

“I have a picture of his,” said Klinger.  “He’s tall, thin, and standing very erect.  He was a nice looking young man.”

As a veteran of the Second World War, Klinger says be has something in common with his great-grandfather.  “You bet I’m very proud of him,” said Klinger.

Shade married Mary Klinger in April 1850 and lived in Upper Mahantongo Township, above Klingerstown.  The couple had four children during ten years, but were divorced in March of 1860.  “This may seem unusual,” said Weaver, “but pension records of Civil War veterans reveal an amazing number of divorces from 1860 to 1875.”

Fortunately, not all the members of the 50th Regiment met the same fate as Shade.  Some were lucky enough to return home after the war and live fruitful lives.

Joel Strohecker (1846-1924)

After enlisting at Harrisburg in February 1864 at age 19, Private Joel Strohecker returned home in June 1865.  He had been severely wounded at Nye River, Virginia during a bayonet charge against the 8th North Carolina Regulars.  A bullet penetrated the right side of his body above the hip and lodged very near the spine.  The bullet was never removed.

Less than a year after returning from the war, Strohecker married Catherine Lesher.  He was a farmer living near Hebe [Northumberland County].  The couple had nine children. “He must have learned to get along with that bullet in his back,” said Weaver.

Strohecker is buried under a dark gray stone in the Pillow Cemetery.  Gertrude Scheib of Gratz was four years old when her grandfather died.  She remembers very few family discussions about him.  “The Civil War was pretty tough,” said Scheib.  “The family never talked about it.”

Scheib’s only memories about her grandfather are his birth certificate, discharge papers, and pension papers, which she keeps in a frame.  The writing is so dull it is illegible.  An old family photo of Strohecker in his seventies is her only image of him.  “I’m going to pass it down to my children and grandchildren,” said Scheib.  “It makes me proud to talk to them about him.”


Note: Ned Weaver passed away on 22 September 2012 while visiting family in California and celebrating his 88th birthday.  For a tribute to Ned Weaver, see The Passing of Ned Weaver – Civil War Specialist at Gratz Historical Society.


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