Civil War Blog

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Peter D. Eby – Killed in Mines at Lykens, 1882

Posted By on October 23, 2015


Notice of the results of a coroner’s inquest into the death of Peter D. Eby at Lykens appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph on 5 January 1882:


A Man’s Neck Broken While Riding on the Cars

Coroner Shindler was called to Lykens yesterday to hold an inquest on the body of Peter D. Eby, aged forty-five years, who was killed in the Wiconisco mines on Tuesday.  Eby had been sick for some time and this was the first day he had worked since his illness.  He was about to go out of the mine, and feeling weak he though he would ride to the mouth, jumping on the front bumper of the car with the driver, which was contrary to the rules. The cars were going at a rapid rate when Eby was struck by the timbers overhead and his neck broken.  The driver noticed the accident in time to prevent Eby’s being thrown under the wheels.  The verdict of the jury was in accordance with the facts.  Eby leaves a wife and six children, in destitute circumstances.  His wife was sick in bed at the time he was killed.


A slight variant version of the accident was reported in the Harrisburg Patriot on 6 January 1882:

Coroner Shindler on Wednesday held an inquest on the body of Peter D. Eby, at Wiconisco.  Eby was a miner and was killed by being struck by a projecting piece of timber while he was riding up the slope of a coal train in violation of the rules of the company.  He leaves a family.  Accidental death was the verdict.

Since nearly all the archival copies of the Lykens Register were lost in a fire, there is no record on how and to what extent the accident was reported in the local newspapers.  For information on the fire, see Jake Wynn‘s post entitled Fire Destroys the Lykens Register, 1900.

Peter D. Eby was a Civil War veteran, a fact that was not mentioned in the news articles from Harrisburg.  The following items were found to verify his Civil War service:

(1) Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Cards from the Pennsylvania Archives:


Peter D. Eby enrolled at Schuylkill County in the 5th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, as a Private, on 21 April 1861, and was mustered into service at Harrisburg on the same day.  He gave his age as 21.  No other personal information is available from the card.


Peter D. Eby enrolled at Minersville, Schuylkill County in the 129th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, on 6 August 1862, and was mustered into service in Harrisburg as a Wagoner, on 13 August 1862.  He was 23 years old at the time and served until  he was honorably discharged on 18 May 1863.

(2)  Pension Index Cards from Fold3 and Ancestry.com:


The Pension Index Card from Fold3 confirms the service in both the 5th Pennsylvania Infantry and the 129th Pennsylvania Infantry.  There is no indication on the card that Peter D. Eby ever applied for an invalid pension for himself nor that any widow applied.  However, an application was made for a pension to support minor children on 6 August 1890.  That pension was approved.


The Pension Index Card from Ancestry.com confirms the information on the Fold3 card and adds the name of William J. Eby as the guardian of the minor children.

The Peter D. Eby family is found in the 1880 Census for Wiconisco Borough:


Click on document to enlarge

As head of the family, Peter gave his age as 41 (born about 1839) and his occupation as coal miner.  His wife Catherine was 37 years old.  Their five children were as follows:  William John Eby, age 16, working as a laborer; Mary E. Eby, age 14, attends school; Eliza J. Eby, age 12, at home with heart disease; Sarah R. Eby, age 5; and Katie Eby, age 2. This confirms five of the six children mentioned in the Harrisburg Telegraph article above.  According to information found on an Ancestry.com tree, the 6th child, Florence E. Eby was born on 5 September 1880, which would have occurred after the 1880 Census was taken.  The William J. Eby who is name in the pension records as the guardian of the minor children is most likely the son who was 16 in 1880, and by 1890, when he applied, was about 26.

It is possible that Catherine Eby died in Philadelphia in 1888, but it is unknown why she did not apply for Civil War widow benefits.  A Catherine Eby is found in the Philadelphia Death Records, FHL Film Number 2079237, died 24 June 1888, but it has not yet been confirmed that this is the same person who was the widow of Peter D. Eby.

Peter D. Eby is buried in Union Cemetery in Minersville, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.


Information on the Findagrave Memorial confirms that the father of Peter D. Eby was George D. Eby (1814-1859), which means that Peter had several brothers who also served in the Civil War:  William H. Eby (1841-1893); George Dalles Eby (1845-1934); and Benjamin Franklin Eby (1846-1934).

All the Eby children, above mentioned, were born in Wiconisco Township.  However, only Benjamin is named on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument.  It is not known why Peter D. Eby‘s name does not appear on the monument, particularly because he was living in Wiconisco in 1880 and he died in Lykens in 1882.

Additional information is sought about Peter D. Eby, his Civil War service and his family, particularly on how his children fared following his death.  Please add comments to this blog post or send by e-mail.


News articles are from Newspapers.com and from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.




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