Posted By Norman Gasbarro on November 14, 2012
A recent book written by Steve E. Troutman and Jeanne J. Adams and published in July 2012 sheds new light on the struggles of a Civil War era family. The Rambergers of Rough and Ready traces the history of one family who lived in Rough and Ready, Upper Mahantongo Township, Schuylkill County, from the pre-Civil War era to the present and shows some of the difficulties faced, particularly by women, and how the families worked to survive.
Fromena Brown, who was born on 1 August 1829, was first married to Elias Erdman, a farmer. With him she had four children between 1848 and 1856, but while she was pregnant with her fifth child, Elias died suddenly at the age of 32. The widow Fromena then gave birth to a son, whom she named after his deceased father. In one sense, Fromena was lucky in that she met and married Daniel Klinger Ramberger (also known as Romberger) around 1858 and he took in Fromena and her young children and raised them as his own. Fromena continued to have children with Daniel and in the ensuing years, covered by the Civil War, she would be pregnant six more times. Unfortunately, many of the children would not survive, and the hardships and tragedies faced by Fromena continued through the years.
Daniel Klinger Ramberger was drafted in 1862 and had to report to Harrisburg where he was mustered into service in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company K, as a Private. The readily available military record summaries do not indicate the date of his discharge. The register at the Pennsylvania Archives simply indicates he was “discharged at Harrisburg.” The actual information as to whether he served (or was immediately discharged) might be found in the muster rolls, which were usually compiled every two months for both payroll and accountability purposes, and until these are consulted, all conclusions are only speculation. The other place where this information might be found is in the pension application files.
An index card has been located which shows that Daniel applied for and received a pension, but that application was not made until 1899. The fact that the pension was received is some indication that he proved actual military service of three months or more. After Daniel’s death in 1901, Fromena applied for a widow’s pension – but did not receive one. The difficulty for women was that they had to prove that they were legally married to the veteran and had no other living husbands. Again, without consulting the actual pension application files (available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.), any conclusion would just be speculation. Also, Fromena died not long after she applied for the widow’s pension.
The authors do speculate that Daniel may have received a discharge because two of his young children were gravely ill and eventually died within a week of each other in 1863.
This book is filled with pictures and family stories, some of which have been seen before, but are now placed together in print form in a family souvenir album. Although it begins in the Civil War era, it fills in the family history up to the present day.
Pension Index Cards are from Ancestry. com and reference materials available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The portraits of Fromena Ramberger and Daniel K. Ramberger were cropped from a photo probably taken in the 1880s and available on public family trees on Ancestry. com.