Posted By Norman Gasbarro on January 27, 2017
Attempting to find all the eligible men who should be included in the Civil War Research Project has been an interesting task, and often, individuals are located who had a definite connection to the Lykens Valley area, but for whatever reason they have been overlooked by local historians. Such is the case of Rev. Dr. Henry M. “Harry” Kieffer. Here is another veteran of the Civil War with a Millersburg area connection, who was not included on the Millersburg Soldier Monument!
In the 1860 census of Upper Paxton Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, the name of Henry M. Kieffer is found as a 15 year old “scholar,” living in the household of his father, Ephraim Kieffer, a German Reformed preacher.
In tracing the life of Henry M. Kieffer, it was found that (1) this is the same Henry who served in the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War; and (2) the father, was the same Rev. Ephraim Kieffer who was an early pastor of St. David’s Church at Killinger, Dauphin County, as well as other Reformed churches in the Lykens Valley, including Gratz, Lykens Township, and Elizabethville. In the course of research, a portrait of Dr. Kieffer was located (at the top of this post), as well as a portrait of his father, Rev. Ephraim Kieffer (shown below):
An obituary of Dr. Henry M. Kieffer was found in a Hagerstown, Maryland, newspaper of the 25 April 1930:
DR. HENRY KIEFFER IS DEAD AGED 84
Brother of Late Dr. J. Spangler Kieffer, This City, Expires
The Rev. Dr. Henry M. Kieffer, retired Episcopal clergyman and Civil War veteran, who died at his home in Atlantic City on Monday, was a brother of the late Dr. J. Spangler Kieffer, of this city [Hagerstown, Maryland].
Dr. Kieffer was 84 years old. At 16 he enlisted as a drummer boy and served three years with the 150th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment [150th Pennsylvania Infantry].
Mr. Kieffer was graduated in 1870 from Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, with the highest mark ever given in that institution. Among his books were Recollections of a Drummer Boy, The Funny-Bone, The Reformed Church Hymnal, Laugh Again, More Laughs, and Short Stories of the Hymns.
He received his D.D. from Ursinus College in 1886. Funeral services were held Wednesday morning at the Atlantic City home and burial was in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
John B. Kieffer, this city, is a nephew.
Well before his death, the Wilkes-Barre Record had published a biographical sketch of him, which included a drawn portrait:
Rev. Henry M. Kieffer, D.D., is the pastor of the First Reformed Church of Easton. This church is the oldest of all the churches in that city, and is distinguished as preeminently a revolutionary church. It was built in 1776, was used as a hospital during the revolution, and within its walls treaties were made between the colonies and the Indians. Dr. Kieffer is of revolutionary stock, his great-grandfather, Abram Kieffer, having been a captain in the revolutionary army. He is doubly related to Governor James A. Beaver whose great-grandfather, George Beaver, was an army chum of Abram Kieffer‘s, and like him a captain. After the close of the war, the two married each the other’s sister — George Beaver marrying Abram Kieffer‘s sister and Abram Kieffer marrying George Beaver‘s sister. On his mother’s side also he has several “revolutionary sires.”
Dr. Kieffer is a veteran of the late Civil War, having enlisted at the age of 16 as a drummer boy in the 150th Pennsylvania Volunteers, known as the “Bucktails.” He served his three years to the close of the war, and was in all the chief engagements of the Army of the Potomac from Chancellorsville to second Hatchers Run. His regiment belonged to the old 1st Corps, was amongst the first troops on the field in the first day’s fight at Gettysburg, and its losses there were amongst the heaviest of all the troops engaged. It had 397 men when it went into action; came out with 133, losing 264, of whom 58 were killed and 77 wounded. After the close of the war, Dr. Kieffer attended Franklin and Marshall College, graduated in 1870 in the same class with Hon. W. U. Hensel, attorney general, taking first honors. He then took a three years’ course in the theological seminary of the Reformed Church at Lancaster; served in the Church of the Ascension at Norristown, Pennsylvania, as pastor for eleven years; thence removed to Easton, where he has been pastor of the old First Church for thirteen years. He has served in the National Guard of the State for five years. as chaplain of the 6th Regiment.
Dr. Kieffer has given an account of his army experiences in a popular book entitled, The Recollections of a Drummer Boy, which appeared first as a serial in St. Nicholas about fifteen years ago; was afterward issued in book form by The Century Company, New York,. The book has become very popular, having passed through numerous editions, and now being issued by Houghton, Mifflin Company, New York. The book is said to have been the way-breaker for all the celebrated “war papers” afterward issued by The Century Company. He is the author of several other books, and is a frequent contributor to the newspaper and magazines.
Some years ago Dr. Kieffer made a special study of the road cut by the troops of General Sullivan from Easton to Wyoming, the year after the massacre, in the celebrated expedition of Sullivan against the Indians, in 1779. On this subject he will speak at the Wyoming anniversary – “The Old Sullivan Road.”
Additional information about Rev. Dr. Henry M. Kieffer can be found at:
and a free download of Recollections of a Drummer Boy;
Special thanks go to Greg Schirm and Debbie Sanford of House of Our Own Bookstore , 3920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, for identifying Rev. Dr. Henry M. Kieffer for inclusion in the Civil War Research Project.
In future posts, three of the chapters of Recollections of a Drummer Boy will be presented here on this blog.