Civil War Blog

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Obituary of Francis Wyeth of Harrisburg – Hospital Commissioner During Civil War

Posted By on November 21, 2013


The obituary of Francis Wyeth of Harrisburg appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot on 3 July 1893.  The second Mrs. Wyeth, who survived him, was the sister of Ann Ellen Carson who was the widow of Theodore Gratz, the first mayor of Gratz, Pennsylvania, and the mother of John Carson Gratz, who died during the Civil War.

During the Civil War, Francis Wyeth served first as head of the Quartermaster Department at Camp Curtin and then, at the calling of Gov. Curtin, served on the state Hospital Commission which visited Union hospitals throughout the South and then made the recommendation to move recovering soldiers back to Pennsylvania where they would closer to family and friends.

One of Francis Wyeth‘s sons, John Wyeth, was the principal founder and owner of the Wyeth Drug Company of Philadelphia.



The Oldest Native Citizen of Harrisburg – He Had Been Failing for Several Years, But Death Came Suddenly – No Funeral Arrangements

HARRISBURG, 3 July 1893 — Francis Wyeth, one of the oldest and best known citizens of Harrisburg, died at his residence, 201 North Front Street, early yesterday morning.  The aged gentleman has been failing for five years, but he had been more comfortable for the past six weeks.  His death, however, came without warning.  Mrs. Wyeth was with him when he died.

The late Francis Wyeth was a son of John Wyeth, who married Louisa Weiss.  Of this union Mr. Wyeth was the second son, born on 5 April 1806, at No. 202 South Second Street, then the fashionable part of the town.  He attended the Harrisburg Academy and subsequently entered Jefferson College, at Canonsburg, from which institution he graduated in November, 1827.  He learned the art of printing in the office of his father, John Wyeth, who was at one time postmaster here and editor of the Oracle of Dauphin.

Shortly after leaving college Mr. Wyeth then but a few years over twenty, was entrusted with the management of his father’s paper, which he edited and published for several years.  The paper ardently supported the principles of the Whig party.  In 1831 Mr. Wyeth sold the Oracle of Dauphin and went into the business of a bookseller and publisher on Market Street, and continued it successfully until 1859 when he disposed of it.

At the outbreak of the rebellion he was placed in charge of the Quartermaster’s Department at Camp Curtin above the city and remained in charge until the general government assumed control over the military organization of the state.  On 20 July 1862, Governor Curtin chose him as one of the Pennsylvania Commissioners to visit the hospitals of the Army of the Potomac in the interest of the volunteer soldiers of the state.  Upon his return home his report was submitted and so valuable were its suggestions that they were carried out a short time afterward.  He was again appointed to the same office in 1863 and upon his return retired into private life.

Mr. Wyeth was the oldest native citizen of Harrisburg, but had never held any public office, though frequently asked to stand for municipal honors, he declined preferring the life of a private citizen.  He succeeded his father as a trustee of the Harrisburg Academy, serving for more than forty years, fifteen of which he held the office of President.  He was also one of the first three elders of the Pine Street Presbyterian Church, founded more than thirty years ago.  He was an excellent classical and English scholar and was always respected as an upright Christian gentleman.

He was twice married.  In 1841, to Susan Huston Maxwell, daughter of William Maxwell of Franklin County, and second to Sarah C. Carson, daughter of Charles Carson, of this city, who survives.  Of his five children, four are living.  They are William N. Wyeth, residing at St. Joseph, Missouri; John Wyeth, senior member of the well known drug firm of John Wyeth and Brother of Philadelphia; Francis H. Wyeth of Philadelphia; and Parker C. Wyeth, residing in Missouri.

No arrangements have yet been made for the funeral.  They will probably be made today.  The interment will be made in the Harrisburg Cemetery, and rev. Dr. George S. Chambers, of the Pine Street Presbyterian Church will conduct the services.


The biographical sketch from which some of the above obituary information was compiled can be found in the Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of Dauphin County, a transcription of which is at Maley.net.

The news clipping is from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.


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