Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Death and Funeral of Dr. Isaiah S. Schminky

Posted By on November 9, 2013

The obituary of Dr. Isaiah S. Schminky of Gratz appeared in the Lykens Standard on 22 February 1900 :


The death of I. S. Schminky at Gratz, Monday, closed a career of medical practice covering a period of 45 years.  He was born 27 January 1832 in Lancaster County.  He entered the Academy at Bloomfield at the age of 14.  He graduated from the old Penn University in 1854.  In 1856 he located in Gratz.  He died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

The report of the funeral appeared in the same newspaper on 1 March 1900:


The remains of the late Dr. I. S. Schminky were interred in Evangelical Cemetery on Friday.  The funeral, conducted by Rev. W. S. Hawk of the Evangelical Church and Rev. J. J. Stauffer.  The flowers were beautiful and consisted of a large pillow of wax flowers from the citizens of Gratz and a pillow from the children.  Also a metallic wreath of forget-me-nots from Dr. Truth of Philadelphia and a living bouquet of natural flowers from the grandchildren.

Dr. Schminky was not a Civil War veteran, but his examination of treatment of veterans was well known throughout the Lykens Valley.  He was however, a member of the pre-Civil War Gratztown Militia, but did not join the company when it went to Harrisburg for the Emergency of July 1863.

Dr. Schminky’s signature can be found on many documents filed at the Pension Bureau attesting to the disabilities veterans incurred as a result of the Civil War.

The earliest such document thus far found is a statement by I. S. Schminky and George Hoffman of Gratz that supports the pension application of the widow of John Rissinger of Gratz who died on 8 May  1864 during the Civil War.  Dr. Schminky did not provide medical evidence in the sworn statement but instead verified the marital status of Catherine Rissinger, the widow, that she was only married to John Rissinger, and that there was only one known child of the marriage, John Jackson Rissinger.


Click on document to enlarge.

The above document was found on Fold3, a website of military records and was added to that site as part of a cooperative effort with the National Archives to make Civil War pension application files (and other military records) available on-line.  The progress of this project was halted by the government shutdown of October 2013, but resumed and volunteers are now scanning and uploading applications made in the post-Civil War period.  All names in that appear in the application papers are recorded – and thus by searching for “I. S. Schminky” the document was discovered in the file of the widow of John Rissinger.  As the project moves into the late 19th century applications, Dr. Schminky’s name is expected to appear more frequently in the searches.

Previously, the following information about Dr. Schminky was provided on this blog:

Dr. Schminky was a graduate of Pennsylvania Medical College in 1854.  He set up practice in this house and performed surgical operations here.  He was believed to be the first doctor in the area to use chloroform as an anesthetic.  His practice also became a place where young men could come to “read” medicine and learn the skills of being a doctor.  One such person was William Lebo who studied with Dr. Schminky and later set up a practice in Valley View.

In addition to being a lieutenant in the Gratztown Militia, Dr. Schminky played a vital role in the health care of the Gratz community.  As stated in A Comprehensive History of the Town of Gratz Pennsylvania:

The post Civil War period was a morbid era, and the residents of Gratz shared in that gloomy time.  Many men from Gratz and vicinity had served with area units during the war.  Some of them never returned, and many more of them came home with very distressful conditions.  A large percentage of them were both physically and financially poor.  Dr. Schminky, with the help of a few other doctors in Gratz, had their work cut out for them.  They spent much time attending to the diseases of the veterans.  In many cases the service was gratis, because the patients were poor.  In addition to the ailing veterans, there were many elderly widows to care for and numerous maladies of everyday life.

For more information on Dr. Schminky, see Gratztown Militia and Home Guards.  See also the medical exhibit at the Gratz Historical Society.

The account books of Dr. Isaiah Schminky are available at the Gratz Historical Society and list all of the patients he treated during his long career.  There is also a record of a partnership with a “Dr. Buehler” which was formed in 1861, with no mention of length or when it was dissolved.

In politics, Dr. Schminky was a Republican and even served a term in the Pennsylvania Legislature representing Dauphin County from 1871-1873.  Later, he joined the Prohibition Party and served as a Burgess of Gratz and a school director.  His land ownership was also widely known  including the area south of town where Fort Jackson was located as well as the entirety of what is now the Gratz Fair Grounds.


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