Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Civil War Nurse – Martha Armstrong Wiestling

Posted By on March 24, 2015


The following obituary appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot, 6 Feb 1906:


Mrs. Martha Wiestling, who during the Civil War was matron of several of the impoverished hospitals in this city, died yesterday morning at age eighty-three years.  She had been a resident for many years of this city [Harrisburg], but of recent years had made her home with her niece, Mrs. Elmer Erb, West Fairview, where her death occurred.

The deceased was the daughter of Cornelius Armstrong, one of the earliest settlers in this vicinity and the captain of a packet boat on the old Pennsylvania Canal.  Joseph Wiestling, who married her prior to the Civil War, was identified with the Pennsylvania Railroad as an inspector.  He died eight years ago.

When Harrisburg people volunteered to care for the wounded soldiers of the Civil War, the city possessed no hospital and after the Battle of Gettysburg schools and churches here were thrown open for such use.  A camp hospital was in existence at Camp Curtin in the locality of what is now Maclay Street and another hospital was afterward opened in the old Mulberry Street School House which in 1878, became the Harrisburg Hospital.  Mrs. Wiestling was the matron of both of these hospitals.

Mrs. Wiestling is survived by the following children:  Valentine H. Wiestling and William B. Wiestling and Mrs. Jane Dibley, Harrisburg, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She was a charter member of the Order of Female Druids and a past Commander of the Ladies Auxiliary of the G.A.R. of Pennsylvania.  Delegations of these bodies will attend the funeral services which will be held tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock at the residence of her niece in West Fairview.  Rev. Mr. Woldemuth, pastor of the West Fairview Lutheran Church, of which she was a member, and Rev. Dr. Ellis N. Kremer, pastor of the Reformed Salem Church, this city, where she formerly was a member, will conduct the services.  The interment will take place at the Harrisburg Cemetery.

Martha E. [Armstrong] Wiestling was the great-granddaughter of Benjamin Buffington (1730-1814) one of the pioneer settlers of the Lykens Valley area, and a Revolutionary War soldier.  Martha’s mother was Jane Buffington (1788-1851) who married Cornelius Armstrong (1791-1827) who is mentioned in the obituary.


The grave marker in Harrisburg Cemetery notes that Martha E. Wiestling was born on 21 April 1823 and died on 5 February 1906.  However, as of this writing, her date of death is incorrectly stated on the Findagrave Memorial as 5 February 1908 (see below).


The death certificate of Mrs. Wiestling is shown below:


Additional information is sought on this important Civil War nurse who had family roots in the Lykens Valley area of Pennsylvania.  Are there any known pictures of her that could be shared?  or additional stories?


The news clipping is from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.  The Pennsylvania Death Certificate is from Ancestry.com.


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