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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Civil War Research Project

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

On April 12, 2011, our country will begin a commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War (1861-1865), the bloodiest war in our history.  In preparation for that commemoration, a research project was begun on the soldiers who fought in that war. The project started with the names of 300 soldiers from the Upper Dauphin-Lykens Valley area, but it quickly became obvious that there were many more veterans than previously thought. Now, more than 3000 Civil War veterans have been identified!

Many of these veterans served honorably but their graves are not marked with the customary G.A.R. star (Grand Army of the Republic).  Others never applied for pensions or joined post-war patriotic organizations. Some moved out of the area, while others moved into the area following their military service. Some also were “cousins” of those in the Lykens Valley – fighting on both sides, sometimes in the same battle against each other.

Many descendants of these soldiers have come forward with information and materials about their ancestors. These materials have enriched the project files – which now contain more than 100,000 items – all of which are digitized and readily available for research.

The digital records are organized in files labeled with the name of each veteran.  Each veteran file contains some or all of the following:

Photographs of veterans and their families

Roles of the women – wives, mothers, sisters, daughters – before, during and after the war

Photographs of gravestones

Obituaries of the veterans and members of their families

Genealogies of the veterans and their families

Military records with muster dates, regiment and company information, battles fought (and sometimes pictures of the battles), and the National Archives microfilm references.

Pension records with applications made by the soldier and widow, copies of medical certifications, marriage information, military record information, and National Archives pension application references.

Census returns showing the soldier and his family

• Military gravestone application record

Prisoner of war records

Veterans home records

Regimental histories

References to objects in the Gratz Historical Society collections or books published by the Society

Letters from soldiers sent to their loved ones at home or letters they received

Diaries – there is a complete diary kept by one soldier for most of the war

Monuments and tributes

Historical sites pertaining to the veteran

G.A.R. Post records

Stories

etc.

These member and community-shared items enable us to discover what happened to the citizens of the Lykens Valley more than 150 years ago – how and in what ways they supported the war and or avoided it, and how they were affected by it.

For the purpose of defining the geographic area of this study, a modified portion of a map from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is provided below:

The area of study is a large triangle, the Lykens Valley falling within its heart.  The entire area within the triangle has to be considered because of the free movement of people in and out of the Lykens Valley area.  Anyone who at any time was associated with any of the communities both within and along the sides of the triangle was considered for this study.

The “points” of (A) Herndon in Northumberland County, (B) Tremont in Schuylkill County and (C) Clarks Ferry in Dauphin County create the triangle.

The western side is the Susquehanna River with Millersburg about mid-way between Clarks Ferry and Herndon.

Along the northern side is the Mahantongo Mountain with its gaps at Pillow and Klingerstown, allowing access to the Lykens Valley from the Northumberland County townships just beyond the gaps.

The southern side of the triangle is Peters Mountain – a formidable barrier which in effect separates Dauphin County into two parts.

Two east-west roads (Route 25 and Route 209) bisect the triangle and run from Millersburg at the river to Tremont in the east.  Between these roads for about half their distance is Short Mountain.  Where Short Mountain ends is “The Crossroads” connecting Routes 209 and 25.  These roads allowed free movement of people in and around the Valley and enabled commerce and communication in the Civil War period just as they do today.

Although the natural boundaries did confine many of the people of the Lykens Valley for generations – others found ways in and out.  Many of the soldiers identified in this study may have been born abroad and were immigrants drawn by work in the coal mines or farms.  Others were born in the Lykens Valley and left to seek their fortunes in the West – Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, and Iowa.  A surprising number were related to each other by blood or marriage and were descended from the same group of the original settlers to the Lykens Valley.  Today, the names that are found in abundance in the Civil War files, are the names of many current residents – undoubtedly descendants of those veterans.

Friends of the project can contribute items relating to the Civil War to add to the research project.  Stories are especially welcome.  Contact Norm Gasbarro, who is directing this project.  E-mail: normgas@gratzpa.org, or by regular mail at 1900 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Apt. #1403, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

For the Veterans List, click here.

13 Responses to “Civil War Research Project”

  1. Jan Snyder Leibin says:

    Cousin Liane Glasrud notified me of this, wish I had known sooner. Her ancestor “TJ” Thomas Jefferson Tobias was younger brother of my great grandfather John Tobias. Apparently John Tobias who lived in Frailey Twp, Schuylkill Co served in civil war but I can only find his national archives record as class 2 in congressional district 10 when he was approximately 44 years old, born in 1821. His first wife Nancy Anna Rowe died in 1850 then he married my great grandmother Hannah Hoffa Tobias (1828-1868), their son William J Tobias my Grandfather (1862-1943). After Hannah’s death he then married Rebecca unknown, then Paulina Rebemann Bauer (1829-1892). John Tobias buried in Donaldson-Tremont cemetery, as are wives Hannah and Paulina, as well as my Grandparents William J. and Ida Klick Tobias. Wish I did have pix of John or Hannah, but unfortunately do not have any, if anyone else does would love to see it. Interested in any other info you might have, sorry I just now found out about this effort. Will be happy to share information.

  2. Hello,
    I’m originally from Millersburg and have an ancestor that fought in the 50th PA named Samuel Schwalm. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been a Civil War buff and I think it’s great that you guys have these resources so publicly available. I know it’s been a trying time in my effort to get all I can together about the 50th PA. Anyways, the link above is to a new website I’m working on and just thought I’d share it with you. It’s a long ways from complete, but it’s been started anyways. I may be researching some more individuals in the coming months and looking for photographic record and I’ll be sure to stop by and say hello! Thanks so much again and I’ll link your site to mine!
    Take care,
    Britt

  3. Ann Tomlin Lynn says:

    My attempts to find more information on THOMAS NELSON THORNBURG, who fought with the Union in the Civil War have been few and far. I do know he was mortally wounded and died a short time later at Gettysburg. Would you please advise me how I might find more about my great great grandfather?

    Any information you have would be greatly appreciated.

  4. John Graff says:

    I have enlistment records, muster records, pension applications, and pay records of my two Great Grandfathers who fought in the civil war.

    Molidore Graff
    Enlisted Aug 12th 1862
    Co B 68th regiment Pennsylvania Infantry
    Mustered out June 9th 1865

    John Brandt
    Enlisted Aug 20th 1864
    Co L 5th Regiment Pennsylvania Cavalry
    Mustered out May 19th 1865

  5. Dr James Patrick Murphy says:

    Hi, I’m looking to see if Moran Patrick 1st. Lieut. Co. A. 69th.Pa. is my relative. My family of Moran’s are from Glenviggin Townland of Sixtowns Northern Ireland. James Moran ( My great grandfather) could possibly be the brother of Patrick Moran. James lived and died on Glenviggin. As you know Charles McNally was from the same townland ( Glenviggin)

    Please let me know if this could be the case.

    Thanks.
    Dr Jim Murphy

  6. Kathryn Elbert says:

    I have been researching my great-great grandfather, Christoph Seibert, who had enlisted in Co. B of the 96th Regiment Pa Volunteers (Pine Grove Sharpshooters). He was transferred to the 44th, 2nd Battalion Veteran Reserve Corps on the 29th of Oct. 1863 and was sent to the U.S. General Hospital at Washington D.C.. How can I find out why he was sent to the hospital? If this was and injury rather than an illness, what battle was he injured in?

  7. Danny Conroy says:

    I am trying to find out more info on Pvt John Becker from Comp. A – 73rd regiment. After his capture he spent time in Andersonville prison. As far as I know he lived in New Jersey and New York, I don’t know why he enlisted in the 73rd regiment in Pa. Do you know if this regiment was from a certain area in Pa. where he might have been living??? I also noticed his occupation was listed as tailor and after the war it was listed as barber. Was it common to learn this occupation in prison? Any info would be great, thank you so much.
    Danny Conroy

  8. alice sandercock says:

    I have a book on the civil war published in 1880. the book is entitled The mammoth cyclopaedia Volume 111. Published weekly by F. M. Lipton New York. Do you know anything about this book? One of the articles is the civil war in America by captain George B Herbert with anecdote’s of the rebellion. and portraits and numerous other illustrations. This book belonged to an uncle. I am originally from Pennsylvania.

  9. Krista Martino says:

    I’m trying to find out more about exactly what happened to my Great Great Great grandfather, Hiram F. Groff, and his company, just before the bloody days of the Battle of Gettysburg. He was drafted from Mifflin County and mustered into Co K 26 Reg Pa Militia as a private at Harrisburg, Pa on June 20,1863. All I know for sure, due to having his original papers in our family archive, is that he was taken as a P.O.W. by the Confederates on June 28th and was released and mustered out of the army on July 30, 1863, after being forced to sign a Parole of Honor, stating he would not fight again until he was recommissioned. So far, the closest information I’ve gotten was that his company may have encountered the Confederates around June 26-27th, while patrolling a road leading to Gettysburg and shots were exchanged, on June 27th, 1863, but I can’t be positive that’s how it went. Would anyone know where I could find more information on his company and what happened to them?

  10. Flo Moon says:

    My ggg Was John C. Charlton, 115th Pa Infantry died July 3rd 1863 Gettyburg at age 51. Would like more information and may have info for your project.

  11. Bill Drasher says:

    My great, great grandfather Stephen Drasher started in the 95th PA Volunteers and then was transferred over to the 96th PA Vol. I didn’t see him listed at Gettysburg on the monument. Can anyone tell me if he was there? I have a large painting of him in his later years and in uniform. I also own his Bridesburg rifle-musket. I fired it last year for the 1st time since the Civil War. It’s still very functional!

  12. Susan Glassmoyer says:

    I am looking for burial information for Franklin (Frank) Reiner (my great-great-grandfather). I have found him in your blog entry of January 25, 2011 within a listing of Civil War veterans who are buried in the Tower City area. Franklin served in the 194th PA Infantry from July 1864-November 1864. I do know that he had been a patient at the US Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Dayton, Ohio (1904-1906), and also at PA Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home in Erie, PA, where apparently he passed. He was married to Sarah (Faust?), who is listed as Head of Household in several Census entries. (Any information on her would be welcome, as well, as I lose her trail after the 1920 Census). They had a son, Senari Oliver (my maternal great-grandfather), who served in the Spanish-American War. Senari is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

  13. Dianne Rosell says:

    RE: Shamokin photo #24

    None show pennsylvania but could help narrow it down.

    Results of search for “Emil Wolf” in the Civil War section of the http://www.Fold3.com. Some are from pension index cards, other are from Civil War Service Indexes.

    • Co. F, 29th NY Infantry
    o Invalid pension certificate #9697
    o Applied May 1, 1862
    • Co. M, 3rd US Artillery
    o Invalid pension application #1288065
    o No certificate number
    o Applied July 8, 1902
    • 10th US Coast Artillery
    o Widow certificate #A10-6-26
    o Was also in Co (?) M, 1 US Artillery
    o Died Dec 31, 1921, St. Louis MO
    • Co. K, 54th NY Infantry
    o Invalid certificate #97284
    o Applied Mar 11, 1869
    • Co. H, 29th NY Infantry
    o No other information
    • Co. F, 60th IL Infantry
    o No other information
    • Co. F, 29th NY Volunteer Militia
    o Listing dated June 4, 1861
    o Capt. Christian Berne’s company

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