Civil War Blog

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Jacob Elm – German Immigrant Served in New York Cavalry Regiment

Posted By on November 2, 2015


The death of Jacob Elm was reported in the Harrisburg newspapers on 28 January 1916:



Special to the Telegraph

Wiconisco, Pennsylvania, 28 January 1916 — Jacob Elm, a Civil War veteran, died at his home yesterday from pneumonia.  He was 79 years old and is survived by his wife and five sons, Charles Elm, Jacob Elm, Peter Elm, Thomas Elm, and George Elm.

Jacob is buried in the Odd Fellow’s Cemetery in Lykens Borough, Dauphin County.  On his grave marker, his military service is given as 4th New York Cavalry, Company D.

In researching the New York regimental records, it was determined that Jacob Elm served as a Bugler in the Cavalry.  He was mustered into service on 25 September 1861 and served until he was discharged on 27 June 1862 on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability.  The two records shown below confirm that service.  The first is a page from the compiled, printed records of the regiment and company (available from Fold3), and the second is a page from the New York Abstracts of Military Service (available from Ancestry.com). Note:  Click on documents to enlarge.



From census and other records available on Ancestry.com, it is learned that both Jacob and his wife Christina S. [Vogel] Elm were German immigrants who arrived in the United States just before the Civil War.  The family appeared in Lock Haven, Clinton County, Pennsylvania, in the 1870 Census, where Jacob was employed as a laborer.  By 1880, they re-located to the Lykens-Wiconisco area, where the couple remained to raise their family, and where Jacob died in 1916.

Three interesting court cases involving Jacob Elm have been discovered in the Harrisburg newspapers:

The first story described charges against a John Effinger of Lykens:


John Effinger, of Lykens, charged with assault and battery on Jacob Elm, of Wiconisco.  Jacob said John slapped him in the face for running against his broken arm. A verdict of not guilty was rendered and the costs divided.  [Harrisburg Daily Independent, 12 December 1894].

The second case involved a judgment brought against Jacob Elm for failing to pay 25 cents in labor costs.  Fifty years later, when the story was revisited in an historical article, it was still said to be the smallest sum ever recovered through the Dauphin County Courts.

An execution for one of the smallest sums in the history of the Dauphin County Court was filed in Prothonotary Melick’s office a few days ago.  It was against Jacob Elm, of Lykens, in favor of George Hawk for twenty-five cents, the plaintiff claiming that sum for labor in hauling malt for Elm in October, 1894.  The costs in the case were just $4.19.  [Harrisburg Patriot, 4 December 1895].

The third case included testimony given by Jacob Elm in support of a a defendant, Charles Klink:


Charles Klink was brought into court by ex-Sheriff Reiff, of Lykens.  Klink is a German with whiskers like pictured anarchists and a tongue that waggled. It was hard to keep him quiet and he shook his heads and hands violently when he found out he could not talk all he wanted to.  The old fellow was accused of threatening to kill the former sheriff.

Klink Was at Threatener

Reiff also said that Kink had also threatened the lives of the late Judge Simonton, Judge Weiss and Albert Millar.  His court record was looked up and it was found that in 1899 he had threatened Paul Shultz‘s life.  He had served sixty days for assault and battery and later was brought into court and tried again for breaking the peace.

Klink denied he had ever shot anybody.  He laughed loud and long.  “Oh, nein, nein,” he shouted.  But his friends said he had actually shot at people in addition to threatening the,  John Paul said he had seen Klink shoot through a barber shop window at a man and another man said the old German had fired at a man at a baseball game.  Jacob Elm, a particular friend of the defendant, said Klink got excited when people had teased him and he had fired at people who got into his back yard.

Judge Kunkel was not satisfied regarding the condition of the man’s mind and suspended sentence, sending Klink back to jail.  [Harrisburg Patriot, 29 January 1907].

It appears from researching the five surviving sons of Jacob Elm, that none stayed in the Lykens-Wiconsico area.   At some point in time, all moved to Philadelphia.  A sixth son, Theodore Elm, was not mentioned in the obituary because he died in 1913, but also in Philadelphia.

For his service in the Civil War, Jacob Elm was recognized on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument, but his rank is incorrectly given as “Private” instead of “Bugler.”   He apparently was a member of the Heilner Post since his name is listed with those who joined after the Post’s organization.



The above Pension Index Card (from Fold3) shows that on 11 December 1879, Jacob Elm applied for a pension, which he received and collected until his death on 26 January 1916 at Wiconisco.  Following his death, his widow, Christina Elm, applied for his benefits, which she received and collected until her death, which according to other records, occurred on 8 February 1925 in Philadelphia.

Additional information is sought about Jacob Elm, his Civil War service, his family, and about the time he was living in the Lykens-Wiconisco area.  Stories and pictures are especially welcome.  Please add comments to this post or send the information via e-mail.


The photograph of Jacob Elm was cropped and enhanced from a 50th Wedding Anniversary picture appearing on Ancestry.com.  The news clippings are from various sources including the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia and Newspapers.com.



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