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Bernard Plotzer – Died on Way Back from Germany, 1876

Posted By on March 29, 2017

Barnhardt Plotzer Sr.‘s name appears on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument as a veteran from the Civil War who was not a member of the Heiler Post.  Finding him in the records was not easy because of the various ways his name is spelled in those records.  For example, the first name has been found as Barnhardt, Barnhart, Bernard, Bernhard and Balthaser.  And the surname has been found as Plotzer, Platzer, Blotzer, and Blozer.

The two Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Cards shown above from the Pennsylvania Archives, while clearly for the same person, show that a Bernard Platzer (or Bernhart Platzer) served in the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Company F, as a Private, enrolling on 3 March 1865 at Harrisburg, and mustered in at the same place on the same day.  At the time, he claimed to be 38 years old (born about 1827).  He stood 5 foot, 4 inches tall, had sandy hair and sandy complexion, blue eyes and indicated he was a miner, and was residing in Dauphin County.  One of the cards notes he was mustered out on 11 August 1865 while the other indicates that he was not on the muster out roll.  One of the cards indicates he transferred from Company F of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry on 24 July 1865.  Both cards note that the name was obtained from the muster rolls, not the enlistment records.  Finally, the bottom card states that the Bates record has his surname as Blozer.

The next step in trying to find information about Bernard Plotzer was to search the pension application files.  No Pension Index Card was located for him – which would probably indicate that he died before 1890, and that he had no surviving widow.

Using the various spellings of the surname, combined with the various first names, a search was completed on Findagrave, with no positive results.

Finally, the same was done on Newspapers.com, with a positive result coming up in a “50 years ago” column in the Harrisburg Evening News, 13 July 1926.

Bernard Plotzer, a boss miner in the Lykens Valley, died suddenly here [Harrisburg], presumably from heat, at the home of Frederick Swartz, Strawberry Avenue.  Plotzer had just recently returned from a visit to his former home in Germany and was on his way back to his family.

The clue having been obtained from the “50 years ago” column, the Harrisburg newspapers of July 1876 were searched, with the following story located in the Harrisburg Telegraph, 11 July 1876:

FOUND DEAD IN BED — Shortly after nine o’clock last evening Coroner Porter was called upon to hold an inquest at the residence of Frederick Swartz, on Strawberry Avenue near Fourth Street, on the body of Balthaser Plotzer.  He summoned a jury consisting of John F. Lesh, M.D., J. George Robber, John Straub, A. Kreidler, Jeremiah Jackson and George Faster, who, after viewing the body, proceeded to hear the evidence in the case.  The circumstances, as we obtained them, are as follows:  The deceased is said to be a foreman or boss miner of the Lykens Valley, and has a family residing at Lykens.  He was on his way home from a trip to Baden, and had telegraphed his safe arrival at New York to his family, and announced that he would be at home on Monday evening at five o’clock.  Yesterday morning Plotzer met a number of friends in this city and visited a number of places.  About half-past nine o’clock he went home with his friend, Mr. Swartz, and stated that he felt fatigued and nervous, and had the same sensation as if he were still on the boat which brought him across the ocean.  Mr. Swartz suggested that he should go to bed and rest himself.  Plotzer complied and Mr. Swartz showed him to his room.  In the evening when supper was ready, Swartz proceeded to the room of his guest and was surprised to find him lying in the bed dead.  He immediately called in a neighbor and sent for a physician.  The latter, upon arrival, pronounced life extinct.  The room in which Plotzer had been sleeping was very close, uncomfortable and poorly ventilated.  When discovered his face was perfectly black, and blood had issued from his nostrils and mouth.  The jury rendered a verdict “that the said Balthaser Plotzer came to his death at the house of Frederick Swartz, No. — Strawberry Avenue, on the afternoon of 10 July 1876, by suffocation, due to the position in which he was lying when found on the bed.”

Plotzer had a small gold watch in his possession, which he intended to present to his daughter, and had purchased some musical instruments for other members of his family.  He was about fifty years of age and stoutly built.  His remains were sent to Lykens today.

Having determined that the Balthazer Plotzer who died in Harrisburg on 10 July 1876 was the same person who was named on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument, as the person who served in both the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry and the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, it is now up to others to fill in the details about his family.  Who were his survivors?  There was a daughter mentioned in the obituary and since he as a “Sr.” (as noted on the monument), there had to be a “Jr.” of the same name.  Anyone who has additional information about this Civil War soldier is encouraged to add it as a comment to this post!


One Response to “Bernard Plotzer – Died on Way Back from Germany, 1876”

  1. Beth Berger Chamberlain says:

    1860 Wiconisco, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania census
    On Ancestry.com
    Indexed as
    Name Born.
    Bernhard Blotzer 1829 Germany
    Catherine Blotzer. 1832 Switzerland
    Bernhard J Blotzer. 1855 Switzerland
    George Blotzer. 1857 Pennsylvania
    Mary Blotzer. 1859 Pennsylvania
    (Living with George Weaver family)

    1870 Wiconisco, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania census
    On Ancestry.com
    Indexed as
    Name Born
    Bernhard Blatzer. 1827 Baden
    Catherine Blatzer. 1832 Switzerland
    Bernhard Blatzer 1855 Switzerland
    John Blatzer. 1861 Pennsylvania
    Charles Blatzer. 1866 Pennsylvania
    Joseph Blatzer. 1869 Pennsylvania
    Ferfers Frank 1830 Baden

    Another son Lewis M Blatzer was born 10 Feb 1872 in Lykens, Dauphin, Pennsylvania
    died 14 Dec 1958 West Donegal, Lancaster, Pennsy

    Bernhardt Plotzer Sr was married to Catherine Stiner based on death certificates of their children.

    Bernhart J Platzer (Junior) was born 8 July 1855 Switzerland
    died 13 Feb 1914 Lykens, Dauphin, Pennsylvania

    John Blatzer born 1861 Pennsylavania died 18 Aug 1912 Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama
    Charles L Blatzer born 1866 Pennsylvania died 9 Dec 1918 Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama
    John and Charles were grocers in Birmingham

    The Harrisburg Telegraph published an article on 25 April 1870, Mon, page3 of a fire that broke out in the home of Edward Zerby, a neighbor of Bernhard Blotzer. “Mr. Blotzer’s home was saved, though seriously damaged.”

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