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Philip C. Swab – A Grand Funeral!

Posted By on February 3, 2016


Philip C. Swab is buried at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Elizabethville, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  During the Civil War, he served in the 208th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, as a Private.  He was mustered into service on 30 August 1864 and honorably discharged on 1 June 1865.  In 1870, Swab was a retail dry goods merchant in Williamstown, Dauphin County, and in 1880 continued in that occupation in Williamstown adding groceries to his goods for sale.  Beginning in 1885, he served as the elected Recorder of Deeds for the County, a position he held for two terms.  But after leaving that position, he re-located to the Tennessee-Kentucky area where he became President of a mining company.  It was in Tennessee that he died suddenly on 10 January 1900.  Since his roots were in Dauphin County, and in particular Elizabethville and Washington Township, the family made arrangements to bring his remains back for burial.  Thus resulted in one of the most elaborate funerals ever conducted in the Lykens Valley.

The Harrisburg-based news articles describing the life, death and funeral of Philip C. Swab are presented below.  Note the genealogical information tracing the Swab family back several generation, the rail arrangements made to move his body from Tennessee to Elizabethville, and the description of the huge floral pieces present at the funeral.  While one of the articles indicates that the burial took place at the St. John’s Church “graveyard,” located in Mifflin Township, near Berrysburg, interment actually took place at the Maple Grove Cemetery where Philip’s wife, the former Catherine Koppenheffer, had been laid to rest when she passed away in 1894.

Surprisingly, no picture has been located of Philip C. Swab, especially considering that he held an elective office in Harrisburg and that much has been written about the coal company of which he was president.  His brother George Swab, who was also involved with the coal company, lived until 1929, and his son Daniel Swab, when he registered for the draft in 1917, was living in Hartranft, Tennessee, and working for the same coal company.  Someone along the way must have preserved a photograph of Philip.

Additional information is sought on Philip C. Swab, including of his actual military service.  No pension application has been located for him.  Philip C. Swab is one of the Elizabethville area Civil War veterans who will be recognized as part of the Bicentennial of the town which will take place in 2017.



From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 11 January 1900:

Philip C. Swab

Unexpected was the death of Philip C. Swab, from 1885 until 1894, Recorder of Dauphin County, at his home in Hartranft, Tennessee, yesterday afternoon.  His son, Daniel C. Swab, who is reading law at the office of District Attorney  Millar, received the sad news late yesterday afternoon and the further information that the body would be brought to the old Swab homestead near Elizabethville, this county, Saturday, for interment at St. John’s Church, near Berrysburg, Sunday morning at 10.

Philip C. Swab was born 10 September 1847, in Washington Township, and was the son of the late Eli Swab, who died in January 1899.  His great-great grandfather, John Schwab, was a native of Germany, and came to this country about 1735, first settling in Philadelphia, and later removing to Berks County.  John Jacob Schwab, grandfather of Eli Schwab, removed to Washington Township, where he died in 1819.  Jacob Swab, grandfather of the deceased, served in the War of 1812 and died on the Swab homestead in 1866.

The deceased wedded Catharine Koppenheffer, of Washington Township, about thirty years ago, and before coming to this city was a merchant at Williamstown.  He established a comfortable home at Thirteenth and Market Streets, and shortly after retiring from office as Recorder, removed to Hartranft, Tennessee, to assume the presidency of the Reliance Coal and Coke Company, formed by Dauphin County capitalists.  His brother, George Swab, formerly a clerk in the Recorder’s Officer, later a Common Councilman from the Ninth Ward, is now connected with the Tennessee Company in an official capacity.

The deceased is survived by three children:  Mrs. G. Walter Whiteman, of Philadelphia; Daniel C. Swab, of this city, and Miss Fannie Swab, of Hartranft, Tennessee.  Mrs. Swab died in this city in July 1894.

Mr. Swab served in the Civil War and was a Mason and member of the G.A.R.  He was a man of kindly and generous disposition and strong character.  He inherited the energy, industry and probity of his forefathers to a marked degree and always had a good word for his fellow man.  Mr. Swab made a popular official and many friends in Harrisburg will regret his sudden demise.

Mr. Swab stated this afternoon that he had not learned any particulars regarding the nature of his father’s illness.  He received a letter this morning from his father, mailed yesterday, in which the writer stated that he was enjoying his usual good health.


From the Harrisburg Daily Independent, 11 January 1900.   Note:  According to her grave marker, Philip’s wife Catherine died on 24 July 1894, so the information in this obituary that “he leaves a wife…” is incorrect.


Ex-Recorder of Deeds of Dauphin County Dies in Tennessee

The announcement last evening in this city of the sudden death of Philip C. Swab, yesterday afternoon at his home in Hartranft, Tennessee, was received with profound regret by his large circle of friends.

Mr. Swab was born in Washington Township, this county, fifty-two years ago.  He leaves a wife and three children:  Mr. Daniel C. Swab, of the District Attorney’s Office, Harrisburg; Mrs. G. W. Whiteman, of Philadelphia; and Miss Fannie Swab, of Hartranft, Tennessee.

The funeral will take place from the Swab homestead, near Elizabethville, on Sunday, and interment will be made at St. John’s Cemetery, bear Berrysburg.

Philip C. Swab served two terms as Recorder of Deeds in Dauphin County, during which time he won the respect and confidence of many people in the city and county for his courteous and fair treatment for all.  Shortly after leaving the Recorder’s Office, he became interested in the Middleborough Coal Company, of Hartranft, Tennessee, and removed his family to that place, where he has since resided.  At the time of death, he was President of the coal company and had filled the position for several years.


From the Harrisburg Daily Independent, 13 January 1900:


Remains of Ex-Recorder Swab Pass Through the City This Morning

The remains of ex-Recorder Philip C. Swab, who died suddenly at his home at Hartranft, Tennessee, this week, reached the city [Harrisburg] this morning at 1:55 o’clock and were taken to Elizabethville, where the funeral will take place to-morrow morning.  A number of friends of the deceased at Hartranft accompanied the body.

For the accommodation of the deceased’s many friends in this city, who wish to attend the funeral, a special car will be attached to News Express, leaving the city at 7:55 o’clock to-morrow morning.  The car will be detached at Millersburg and taken to Elizabethville by a special engine.  The car will leave Elizabethville in time to connect with the train at Millersburg due here [Harrisburg] at 6:55 o’clock in the evening.  A number of county and ex-county officials will attend the funeral.


From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 13 January 1900:


Funeral Services Will be Held To-Morrow Morning

Accompanied by members of his family and close friends and business associates, the body of the late Philip C. Swab, former Recorder of Dauphin County, reached the city from his late home in Hartranft, Tennessee, at 1:55 this morning, coming by way of Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.  Later in the morning a number of friends of the Mingo Coal and Coke Company, Fork Ridge Coal and Coke Company, and Middleborough Coal Company, of which latter Mr. Swab was President at the time of his sudden death, arrived in Harrisburg to attend the funeral at St. John’s Lutheran Church, near Berrysburg, tomorrow morning.  Two of the children of the deceased, Daniel C. Swab, of this city, and Mrs. G. Walter Whiteman of Philadelphia, met the body at this point.  Mr. Whiteman, who is a former Harrisburger, is also here.  Those accompanying the body were Mr. and Mrs. George Swab, the former brother of the deceased; Miss Fannie Swab, a daughter; Mrs. Hannah [Swab] Brubaker, a sister; and General Manager Q. A. Tipten Jr., of the Reliance Coal and Coke Company.  The floral designs ordered in this city by the officials of the above-mentioned corporation are the handsomest seen in Harrisburg for a long while.  At 7:55 this morning, the body and friends departed for Elizabethville.

For the convenience of the many friends of Mr. Swab in this city and vicinity who have expressed their intention of attending the funeral, arrangements have been made whereby a special coach will be attached to the train leaving Union Station at 7:55 tomorrow morning.  The car will be detached at Millersburg and taken to Elizabethville by special engine.  The Harrisburgers will be able to return on Philadelphia Accommodation, reaching here [Harrisburg] at 6:55 tomorrow evening.  Funeral services will be held at the Swab homestead near Elizabethville at 10 o’clock and the body will be taken to St. John’s Church, where there will be further services.  Mr. Swab was an old member of the church.  He was also a member of Tremont Lodge of Masons and the G.A.R. Post of Williamstown, both of which will have representatives at the funeral.

Particulars of Mr. Swab’s death were received in the city yesterday.  He had returned from the company’s store about 4 o’clock Wednesday afternoon and was informed by his brother George that the stock of feed in the stables was getting low.  He went to [the] stables, and shortly thereafter was found dead in the storage room by Stable Boss St. Clair.  The physicians pronounced the cause of death to be heart disease.

Through the Melrose Floral Company was ordered the following magnificent floral tributes, representing the outlay of hundreds of dollars:  a harp seven feet high, surmounted by three doves, and with golden strings, the sides and base of American beauty roses, and the balance of white roses and ferns, from the Mingo Coal and Coke Company; a standing anchor, four feet high, surrounded by a dove, formed of white and pink roses, lilies, hyacinths, and ferns, the base of galax leaves, white roses and asparagus, from the miners, drivers, and laborers of the Reliance Coal and Coke Company; a crescent and star, four feet high, the star formed of violets, white hyacinths, and yellow roses, the crescent of yellow roses and hyacinths, and the base of yellow roses and asparagus, from D. T. Hodges of Taswell, Tennessee.

In addition to those mentioned above as coming from Tennessee to attend the funeral are the following:  Dr. D. W. C. Senter, nephew of ex-Governor Senter, of Tennessee, and the Swab family physician; Judge G. W. Sansberry, Middleboro, Kentucky, former Vice President of the Middleborough Coal Company, and John Gent, Superintendent of the Reliance Coal and Coke Company; C. M. Woodbury, President of the Mingo Coal and Coke Company, and W. B. Lockett, of W. B. Lockett and Company, Knoxville, Tennessee, were also expected, but have not yet arrived.


From the Harrisburg Daily Independent, 15 January 1900:


Funeral of the Ex-Recorder Takes Place Yesterday in Washington Township

The funeral of ex-Recorder Philip C. Swab in Washington Township yesterday was one of the largest held in that section of Dauphin County for years.  The services were held at St. John’s Church, near Berrysburg, and Rev. Mr. Renninger conducted the services.  Members of Swatara Lodge of Masons of Tremont, attended the funeral and furnished the following pall bearers:  Sheriff John S. Reiff; Charles Stine; Deputy Sheriff George W. Melhenny; John Kauffman; Daniel Feagley; J. J. Nutt; Forest Swartz; and John Eby.  There was also a large delegation of the G.A.R. Post of Williamstown in attendance.  Deceased was a member of both organizations and the rites and ceremonies of the orders were appropriately observed at St. John’s Church Graveyard, where interment took place.  A number of floral designs were furnished by friends of the deceased.  The following Harrisburg people attended the funeral:  District Attorney Albert Millar; former member of the legislature, George Kunkel; Deputy Sheriff George W. McIlhenny; Robert Stucker and mother; Reuben Althouse; Arthur Eby; David R. Cadwallader; Simon Duey; Wellington Swab; and J. H. McIlhenny.


News clippings are from Newspapers.com.



2 Responses to “Philip C. Swab – A Grand Funeral!”

  1. Sue Bensinger Petres says:

    Do you have a listing of which Civil War Veterans will be remembered at the Elizabethville celebration in 2017?

    • Norman Gasbarro Norman Gasbarro says:

      There are several people working on the list. The “original” list was developed for the 150th Anniversary, but the compilers admitted that their list “should not be considered to be complete.” The difficulty is two-fold: (1) defining the geographical area represented by the list; and (2) identifying those who were not included on the original list. Many veterans had only a brief relationship with Elizabethville (and area), and some (who lived in the area) chose not identify themselves as veterans. There may never be a “complete” list. All suggestions are welcome!

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