Civil War Blog

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Joel Kramer – Killed In Storm By Falling Barn Door

Posted By on October 6, 2016


On 11 May 1897, The Times of Philadelphia reported the following tragic story:


A Mahantongo Farmer Falls from a Barn and Dies After Being Found by Passing Farmers.

Special Telegram to THE TIMES.

SHAMOKIN, 10 May 1897 —  News of an awful accident reached here today from Mahantongo Township.  Joel Kramer, of that place, was feeding his horses in his stable when a severe storm occurred,  The door of the loft was partially blown off and while trying to reset it on its hinges he fell to the ground, his head being badly cut, besides sustaining internal injuries.

He lay exposed to the storm until daylight, when farmers on their way to market found him.  He died shortly after.  He was unmarried and a veteran of the war.

On 10 May 1897, the Daily News of Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, reported on his funeral:


Death from Storm.

Joel Kremer, aged 41 years, of Mahantongo Valley, a farm hand, was buried Saturday afternoon.  Thursday night he was aroused from his bed in the barn where he slept by the door blowing open.  It blew partly off and hung on one hinge.  He tried to fasten the door and in his effort slipped and fell to the ground, the door falling on him and bruising his body and injuring him internally.  He lay in this position, unconscious, for six hours, until found next morning by a farm hand.  He died a short time after.

Although the Daily News reported his age as 41, he was actually about 56.  If he were only 41, then he could not have served in the Civil War as stated in the article which appeared in The Times.

In 1850, Joel Kremer was enumerated in the household of his parents, Christian Kremer and Linda [Wehry] Kremer.  His father was a farmer and the family was living in Coal Township, Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania.

In 1860, Joel Kremer was living in the household of Benjamin Kremer, age 36, a blacksmith, in Hegins Township, Schuylkill County.  Possibly, Benjamin was an older brother and Joel was working there as a blacksmith.


On 19 August 1861, Joel Kramer enrolled at Hegins in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, and was mustered into service at Harrisburg as a Private on 9 September 1861.  His age at the time was 22, he was 5 foot, four inches tall, had light hair, a florid complexion, and blue eyes.  He gave his occupation as blacksmith and his residence as Hegins.  At the expiration of his three-year enrollment, he re-enlisted on 1 January 1864 at Blaine’s Crossroads, Tennessee.  Regimental records show that he was mustered out on 30 July 1865, but in the 1890 Veterans’ Census he reported that he was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability and while he did not give his dates of service to the census, his discharge should have occurred some time after his re-enlistment date and the date the company was discharged.  The disability he reported was a “rupture” which was “received in battle.”  At this time, no other military records have been seen for review, however, his file, at the National Archives should give more detailed information as to his disability and the date of his discharge.  The Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card (shown above), is from the Pennsylvania Archives.


On 24 July 1890, Joel Kremer applied for an invalid pension based on his service in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, which he received and collected until his death.  The Pension Index Card, shown above from Fold3, shows no widow applied, which indicates that he was either unmarried (as stated in his report of death), or he was married and his wife died before him.

However, an 1880 Census for Cameron Township, Northumberland County, shows that Joel Kramer was working as a laborer and had in his household, Catherine Kramer, age 40, and five children:

  1. Franklin Cramer, age 15 (born about 1865)
  2. Ellen J. Kramer, age 17 (born about 1863)
  3. George Kramer, age 12 (born about 1868)
  4. Christ Kramer, age 8 (born about 1872)
  5. Johnny Kramer, age 2 (born about 1878). This appears to be the same person as John William Kramer who died 19 August 1951 in Klingerstown, Schuylkill County.

This Joel Kramer is the same person who was enumerated in the same place in 1890.

As for the wife, Catherine Kramer, her maiden name appears to be Nye (or Nie), which is the name found as the mother on the death certificate of John William Kramer in 1951.  However, to date, no other confirmation has been seen and a date of her death has not yet been located.

Additional information is sought on Joel Kramer (or Joel Kremer) who served in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A.  Please send via e-mail or add comments to this blog post.

The newspaper articles are from Newspapers.com.



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