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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Some African Americans with Civil War Connections Who Died in 1910

Posted By on December 30, 2014

The obituaries of four men who died in 1910 in Harrisburg provide an opportunity for further research for someone interested in the role played by African Americans in the Civil War.  Presented here are: (1) Edward Lowery; (2) Eli Gray; (3) William H. Harris; and (4) Gideon Williams.

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From the Harrisburg Patriot, 6 June 1910:

LoweryEdward-Patriot-1910-06-06-001

Edward Lowery

Edward Lowery, aged eighty-two years, was found dead last evening about 8 o’clock at his home, 236 Liberty Street [Harrisburg].  Death was due to asthma from which he had been a sufferer for a long time.  Coroner Coover held an investigation and determined that death was due to the above disease.  He was a Civil War veteran and was sell known in this city.

The funeral will be held from the Wesley Union A. M. E. Zion Church tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock.  The colored lodge of Masons and Odd fellows will have charge.  Interment will be made in Lincoln Cemetery.

The death certificate of Edward Lowery (below) is from Ancestry.com:

LoweryEdward-PADeathCert-001

The death certificate confirms information provided in the newspaper obituary:  address of decedent, cause of death, name of coroner, approximate age of decedent, and place of burial.  Information not given includes the place of birth and names of parents.

Also not determined from the information in the above two sources is the regiment in which Mr. Lowery served during the Civil War.

According to the database of soldiers available at the National Park Service, an Edward Lowery served in the 24th United States Colored Troops, Company F, as a Private.  From the regimental history:

Organized at Camp William Penn, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 30 January to 30 March 1865. Moved to Washington, D. C., 5 May, and duty at Camp Casey till 1 June. At Point Lookout, Maryland, guarding prisoners till 16 July. Moved to Richmond, Virginia, and duty in Sub-District of Roanoke, Headquarters at Burkesville, till September. Moved to Richmond, Virginia, and there mustered out 1 October 1865.

Military Index Cards for Edward Lowery, available from Fold3, provide the following additional information:  (1) he was born in Virginia;  (2) he was drafted into the 24th U.S.C.T. on 18 March 1865 at Chambersburg, Virginia; (3) he claimed to be 34 years old at his entry into the service; (4) he was working as a laborer; (5) he was 5 foot, 10 inches tall, black complexion, black hair, and hazel eyes; and (6) he enrolled for a period of one year; and (7) he was discharged at Washington, D.C., on 30 September 1865.

To the date of this writing, no Pension Index Card has been located for him.

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From the Harrisburg Patriot, 12 September 1910:

GrayEli-Patriot-1910-09-12-001

ELI GRAY, BARBER DEAD

Had Worked At His Trade for Half a Century

Eli Gray, one of the oldest Negro barbers in the state died last evening shortly after 8:30 o’clock at the home of his sister, Mrs. A. C. Brown, 267 Briggs Street [Harrisburg].  He was in his seventy-seventh year.

The arrangements for the funeral have not yet been completed, but it is understood that the services will be held Wednesday at the home of Mrs. Brown, his only surviving relative.

Gray was born in York, Pennsylvania, and lived there until 1865.  It was there he began his trade as a barber and worked at his trade in that city throughout the Civil War days.  In 1865 he came to this city [Harrisburg] and worked as a barber here.  For twenty-five years he conducted a shop under the National Hotel.

The Pennsylvania Death Certificate for Eli Gray was found under “Eli Grey” on Ancestry.com:

GrayEli-PADeathCert-001

The death certificate confirms information in the obituary, namely his occupation, his place of death, date of death, approximate age (his date of birth is given as 1 November 1835), and the fact that he was single.  Additionally, his place of burial is given as York, Pennsylvania.  He was the son of William Grey and Amanda Brown, both of whom were born in Pennsylvania.

A Findagrave Memorial has been located for him.  He is buried in the Lebanon Cemetery, North York, York County, Pennsylvania.  The grave marker has a dedication from his sister Cornelia, presumably the sister who is mentioned in the obituary.  The date on the stone is 1 November 1834, rather than the 1 November 1835 death date from the death certificate.

While no Civil War military service has been located for Eli Gray, he most likely had some very interesting stories about his life as a civilian in York, Pennsylvania, at the height of the Emergency of 1863 when Lee and the Confederate armies invaded Pennsylvania.  Perhaps he told these stories in his barber shop in Harrisburg in the years after the Civil War.  Or, perhaps these stories were passed down in the family.

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From the Harrisburg Patriot, 17 October 1910:

HarrisWH-Patriot-1910-11-04-001

W. H. Harris

The funeral of W. H. Harris, a Civil War veteran who died at his home, 326 Calder Street [Harrisburg], early Saturday morning, will take place this afternoon from Zion Baptist Church.  Rev. Walter Tolliver, the pastor, will officiate.  Mr. Harris was a member of Post 520, G.A.R., and of the Baptist Church.  Interment will be made in Lincoln Cemetery.

The Pennsylvania Death Certificate for W. H. Harris was found on Ancestry.com under the name “William Harris“:

HarrisWilliamH-PADeathCert-001

The additional information provided on the certificate includes that William H. Harris was born in Henrietta County, Virginia, in 1838, possibly in slavery.  The names of his parents were not known by the informant.  The date of death was 14 October 1910, and the cause of death was “auto-intoxication due to obstruction complicated by bronchial pneumonia.”

William H. Harris is buried in Lincoln Cemetery, Harrisburg, but as of this writing, a Findagrave Memorial has not been located for him.

Because of his common surname, finding him in the Civil War veterans’ records is difficult, although it was initially thought that he was the Private who served in Company C of the 24th United States Colored Troops.  However, the Military Index Cards for that William Harris indicate that he was 44 years old at the time of enlistment and was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  But, the birthplace information and year of birth on the death certificate could be wrong, which would justify pursuing further the William Harris who served in the 24th U.S.C.T.

Additional research is needed to determine his regiment and company of service and whether he ever applied for a pension.

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From the Harrisburg Patriot of 23 April 1910:

WilliamsGideon-Patriot-1910-04-23-001

Gideon Williams, aged seventy years, died yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock of pneumonia after a few days illness.  Mr. Williams was well known in this city.  He was a Civil War veteran.

The funeral will take place from his late residence, 1034 South Cameron Street, on Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock.  Interment will be made in Lincoln Cemetery.

WilliamsGideon-PADeathCert-002

Williams was born in Maryland as were both of his parents.  He died in the Harrisburg Hospital.

He is probably the same Gideon Williams who served in the 41st United States Colored Troops, Company B, as a Private, from 5 October 1864 through his discharge on 18 October 1865 at the expiration of his term.  If so, he applied for a pension on 31 May 1878, which he received and collected until his death, which occurred on 22 April 1910.  There are at least 20 individual documents available about him on Fold3 which include information that he was a substitute for someone who was drafted from York County.

As of this writing, no Findagrave Memorial has been located for him.

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News clippings are from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.


Comments

One Response to “Some African Americans with Civil War Connections Who Died in 1910”

  1. Becky Anstine says:

    Gideon Williams – info from pension file
    Born May 1847 in Cecil Co., Maryland. Substitute for Jos. V Winemiller of Hopewell Twp., York Co., PA. Listed in 1860 and 1890 census in Shrewsbury Twp. Affidavits provided by Samuel M Fife, John S McKinley, and Samuel Males/Mally – all of Shrewsbury Twp.
    In hospital at Fort Monroe, VA on 14 April 1865 for gunshot fracture of right hand, causing amputation of the index and middle fingers. Married Henrietta Venible in 1865 in Fawnville ( probably Fawn Grove, Fawn Twp., York Co. by Rev. Armstead Berkley.Admitted to Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Dayton, Montgomery Co., Ohio in 1909. Listed on 1910 census there.10 July 1910, hospital dropped him from rolls for absence without leave, personal papers still there, only contact name given was Gertrude V Brown of Harrisburg, PA- listed as niece. She was also listed as his mother and his daughter in death announcements in Harrisburg Daily Independent and Harrisburg Telegraph.

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