Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Fatal Mine Accidents at Short Mountain Colliery, 1878-1903

Posted By on April 29, 2016


Some time after 1903, the Lykens Standard responded to a request to print a list of all mine-related fatalities at the Short Mountain Colliery, Lykens, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  Many of the men named in the fatalities list were Civil War veterans or were the sons of Civil War veterans.  The list is presented below for researchers who wish to locate obituaries, news articles, and other information about the men and their families.

Fatal Mine Accidents Since 2 January 1878

Below will be found a list of fatal accidents at Short Mountain Colliery from 2 January 1878 to 25 November 1903.  We have often been asked when certain accidents occurred, but having no record to refer to, were unable to give the desired information.  By mere accident we came across the list below, compiled by an employee of Short Mountain Colliery, and we would recommend that our local readers cut it out and preserve it for future reference….


2 January 1878 – Peter Sholley

8 February 1878 – William Messner

12 May 1878 – John Wert

15 June 1878 – Charles Baker

21 November 1878 – Philip Hoffman


28 March 1879 – John Uhland‘s boy

5 May 1879 – P. Martin

7 May 1879 – William Ely

10 July 1879 – Charles Zerby

23 July 1879 – Thomas Conley

15 September 1879 – Samuel Romberger

2 October 1879 – William Weeklam


16 March 1880 – Michael Sheboski

3 May 1890 – Simon Kailey, George West, Michael Douglas – Explosion of gas.

5 May 1890 – Robert Williams

10 May 1890 – Thomas Evans

14 September 1890 – John Higgins


20 October 1881 – Thomas Lord


3 January 1882 – Peter Eby

2 September 1882 – Robert Snyder


28 May 1883 – George Shively

13 September 1883 – Thomas Cook

7 November 1883 – Cassimir Hentz


12 February 1894 – Lowry Shamper

8 April 1884 – Jacob Hoffman

16 September 1884 – Elmar Kocher – Explosion of boilers, top L. V. slope.


28 May 1885 – Peter Starkowski

13 July 1885 – George Machamer

28 July 1885 – Joseph Dunlap – Caught by cars at Short Mountain scales.

15 October 1885 – Newton Woodside – Fall of rock in No. 1 drift.


23 August 1886 – Daniel Woland – Explosion of gas; 12 other miners besides Woland were burnt at the same time.


23 June 1887 – John Cook

13 August 1887 – William Taylor

16 September 1887 – George Kaudridge


2 May 1888 – William Zarker – Caught by sidehook top of Lookout plane, outside.

14 May 1888 – John C. Zimmerman – Caught by cars on plane in No. 3, west.

12 July 1888 – Harvey Umholtz

12 September 1888 – George Orndorff

21 September 1888 – Elias Esterline – Fall of rock in No. 1 drift.


22 January 1889 – William Keast

23 January 1889 – Frank Miller

11 February 1889 – Henry Erdman – Fell down S. M. slope.

7 August 1889 – William Davis

25 July 1889 – Claude Commo

15 November 1889 – Philip Hoffman – Fall of rock in No. 1 drift.


11 July 1890 – John Halick

18 September 1890 – James Rettinger – Caught by locomotive in No. 3, west


8 April 1891 – Barney Hentz

31 August 1891 – Elias Harman


24 January 1892 – Albert Horley

30 March 1892 – Reuben Zimmerman – Fall of coal in No. 3 west.

27 October 1892 – Asa Blackway Jr. – Fell down No. 4 slope.


25 March 1893 – Edward Mark

6 May 1893 – Julius Braener

14 August 1893 – Thomas Acaley – Fall of rock in No. 4 slope.

8 September 1893 – Thomas Wall – Fall of coal in No. 1 drift.


6 February 1894 – Edward Zerby – Fall of rock in No. 3, west.

23 April 1894 – William O. Bateman – Fall of slate in No. 1 drift.

8 January 1894 – Horace Minnich – Fall of slate at bottom of No. 4 slope.

29 May 1894 – Frank Matter – Caught between cars and top rock in No. 3, west.

13 August 1895 – Joseph Enders – Caught by headblock top of No. 2 plane, No. 1 drift.

11 November 1896 – Charles Sandt – Caught between cars at breaker


28 January 1897 – Samuel Samuels – Fall of coal in tunnel.

28 January 1897 – Aaron Umholtz – Fall of coal in tunnel.

11 June 1897 – William Lewis – Caught under cars at mouth of tunnel.


12 April 1898 – Silas Parfet – Explosion of blast.

1 August 1898 – Simon Kniley Jr. – Fall of slate in No. 1 drift.

4 October 1898 – Josiah Werner – Fell down L. V. slope.


2 July 1899 – Albert Williams – Caught under locomotive.


16 January 1900 – Arthur Llewellyn – Fall of rock.

12 July 1900 – Theodore Hoffman – Caught between cars, outside.

11 September 1900 – James Higgins – Fall of slate in L. V. drift.


10 January 1901 – William Longhurst – Caught between side hooks, top of tunnel plane, outside.

6 May 1901 – Uriah Minnich – Fall of slate in No. 3, west.

19 June 1901 – James O’Neil – Fall of rock in No. 4 slope.

26 August 1901 – George W. Fegley – Fell down manway in No. 1 drift, White’s Vein.

24 December 1901 – Andrew Schmich – Fall under trip of cars.


3 October 1902 – Frank Behney – Caught by prop in No. 1 drift.


3 August 1903 – Benjamin W. Roe – Fell down counter chute, W. V. counter, No. 1 drift.

29 August 1903 – William W. Hawk – Fall of slate No. 6 counter, S. M. slope.

25 November 1903 – Alain Hoke – Fall of coal in L. V. drift


Special thanks to Roger Cramer for providing images of the news clipping containing this information.









Update on Hiram Groff – Captured at Gettysburg, Then Parolled

Posted By on April 28, 2016

On 4 November 2014, a post entitled “The Groff Brothers?  Hiram, Valentine and William,” was presented here.  Some questions were asked in that post and readers were asked to submit additional information about the men named Groff.  Note:  A prior post also discussed “Israel M. Groff and Sons – All Civil War Veterans?

The following information was received from Gary Martino, the great-great grandson of Hiram Groff, who served in the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1863) and whose name appears on the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg:

Hiram was with the 26th PVM Emergency Regiment and taken prisoner near Gettysburg on June 27th.  His Regiment actually opened the battle of Gettysburg during a scouting patrol where they ran into Lee’s forces.  They were forced into retreat, some being killed and some, like Hiram, were captured.

I took a photo of the framed documents attached.  They were in our family bible and were professionally mounted and framed so I could not photocopy the original.  Included are Hiram’s parole of honor (signed July 2nd 1863), honorable discharge from the GAR and a photo of him at about 50 years of age with my GG Grandmother Sarah.  They are both buried at Middletown PA cemetery.  He was obviously paroled because every Confederate troop was needed on the line and they couldn’t spare men to guard prisoners, luckily for my Hiram.  Not sure if Jubal Early actually signed it or not, maybe you can tell me?  Probably just by order of….

Also would like to connect to anyone else related to Hiram since they are my bloodline.

The three attached photographs are presented below:


Hiram and Sarah Groff


Parole by Order of Jubal Early


Grand Army of the Republic Certificate

The document from the Simon Cameron Post of the Grand Army of the Republic in Middletown, Dauphin County, is a certificate given to Hiram Groff by that Post which verifies some personal information such as his age and place of birth, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and his military service and dates of service.

As previously mentioned, Hiram Groff does have connections to Millersburg (he joined the local militia there which went to Gettysburg in late June 1863), and Mifflin Township (where he is found in the draft registration records of 1863, working as a saddler).


However, his name does not appear on the Millersburg Soldier Monument.  Also, he was not included in the 1967 Elizabethville Sesquicentennial List of Civil War veterans, but possibly should be included in the 2017 list being prepared for the Bicentennial – if he lived in 1863 in the Southern part of Mifflin Township which was more closely associated with Elizabethville than Berrysburg.

Two Tragic Veteran Deaths of 1924

Posted By on April 27, 2016

Many veterans died tragic deaths.  These two men, having lived nearly 60 years after the close of the Civil War, died in 1924, one as a result of an accident and one as a result of suicide.

From the Harrisburg Evening News, 20 May 1924:


Gas from an open house to which he had gone for the purpose of preparing it for occupancy, caused the death of James M. Gibson, of Sunbury, a Civil War veteran.

From the Harrisburg Evening News, 22 March 1924:



LEWISTOWN, 22 March 1924 — James Maden, 82 year-old veteran of the Civil War, an invalid for years, committed suicide late last night at his home here.

Maden guided his wheel chair to a bureau where he kept an old revolver, a relic he had picked up during the war.  His daughter, Mrs. Beattie Chesney, saw him get out the revolver and she ran screaming to the street.  As neighbors came rushing in response to her calls, the old man fire.  The shot caused instant death.

He had been suffering from melancholia for months because of rapidly failing health. Maden lost a leg during the Gettysburg battle.


News clippings from Newspapers.com.

Heister Clymer – White Supremacist Candidate for Governor, 1866

Posted By on April 26, 2016


Hiester Clymer (1827- 12 June 1884), a member of the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania, was a State Senator who was opposed to Lincoln and his prosecution of the Civil War.  In 1866 he ran for Governor and strongly espoused white supremacist policies.

His opponent was Union General John W. Geary.

According to Heister Clymer’s Wikipedia biography, his “camp produced some of the most virulently graphic racist posters and pamphlets of the decade.”  One of those posters is pictured below.

Clymer lost the election which was held in October 1866.


A typical poster, as found on Wikipedia and available from the prints collection at the Library of Congress:




GEARY said in a Speech at Harrisburg, 11th of August 1866 – “THERE CAN BE NO POSSIBLE OBJECTION TO NEGRO SUFFRAGE.”

CLYMER‘S Platform is for the White Man.

GEARY‘S Platform is for the Negro.





Prior to his nomination by the Democratic Party, Clymer held county delegate conventions for soldiers who “signed on” as supporters of his white supremacist, racist policies.  The purpose of these conventions was to select delegates who would nominate and support Clymer in the state convention.  One such convention was held in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, on 25 July 1866:



The undersigned honorably discharged Union soldiers, believing that we battled in the late war for the Union of these States, and had successfully maintained it, view with alarm the persistent efforts of radical men who seem determined, practically, to destroy the Union we went forth to save. They would have the community believe that Union soldiers are willing to give up in the hour of victory the great object to which their sacrifices and toll and blood were given.  This persistent misrepresentation must be rebuked.  We again fall into line until the Union of these States is completely restored. Therefore, we unite in requesting all the honorably discharged officers, soldiers and seamen of Dauphin County who favor the wise and constitutional policy of President Johnson, who oppose the doctrine of negro equality and suffrage, and desire the election of the Hon. Heister Clymer, to meet in Mass Convention at Harrisburg on the evening of 25 day of July 1866, for the purpose of electing fourteen delegates of Union Soldiers, which is to assemble in this city on Wednesday, 1 August 1866….

Then followed a long list of Dauphin County signers, and their Civil War regiment and rank, all of whom supposedly signed the petition because they were supporters of Clymer’s racist and white supremacist policies.

In future posts describing this election, the names of the veterans from the Lykens Valley area who signed the Clymer petition will be revealed.


A typical statement of principles coming out of one these Clymer Soldiers’ Conventions was reported in the Harrisburg Patriot, 4 June 1866:

The “Boys in Blue” for Johnson and Clymer!!



We, as honorably discharged soldiers who participated in the recent sanguinary was, and have now returned home to find the Government struggling against a traitorous fanaticism, which aims a death-blow at the restoration of the Union and which treats the Constitution as an unclean thing, and daily offers amendments, looking to the entire destruction of Constitutional freedom, having met in Convention to form ourselves into an organization which will have for its object the defense of the principles for which we dared the perils of the field and for the triumph of which three hundred thousand of our comrades died, are desirous to announce the creed which we will support at the next October election, and the candidate under whose chieftainship we intend to be found at the polls, Therefore, be it

1. Resolved, The object of the war, now so happily ended, was declared bu the resolutions of Congress of July 1861, to be the defense and maintenance of the supremacy of the Constitution and the preservation of the Union with the dignity, rights of the several states unimpaired.  That with that object in view, we in common with our gallant brethren, entered the army and aided in carrying the Old Flag, with not a single star obscured and not a stripe erased, over many glorious battle-fields, until victory crowned the contest and rebellion succumbed to the arms of the Union, and not a traitor for was, to be found, resisting the Government of the Constitution of our Fathers.  The Constitution thus has been maintained, and the Union must now be unconditionally restored, and we hereby pledge ourselves as soldiers to sustain President Johnson in his wise, humane and patriotic policy.  We denounce as revolutionary and wicked the schemes and legislation of the radicals, headed by Stevens and Sumner, who refuse the admission of loyal representative, elected by the eleven Southern States and the plan of reconstruction reported by the irresponsible cabal of fifteen, which violates the cardinal doctrines of a republican representative government.  We adhere to the faith of our Father, that taxation without representation is tyranny.

2. Resolved, That Congress has no right under the Constitution to prescribe the qualifications of electors in the several States, but that the people of the States respectively only have that privilege.  That to Congress belongs the constitutional right for each House to judge of the election returns and qualifications of its own members and when it transcends that boundary and undertakes to force upon any of the States the right of negro suffrage, it violates the essential guarantees of the liberty of the citizen, and its acts only tend to the subversion of reserved rights of the States.

3. Resolved, That we heartily endorse the veto messages of President Johnson and approve of his bold and manly determination to stand between the people and the tyranny of a Congress, which looks only to the prolongation of its own party power, irrespective of the interests of the country.  If President Johnson carries out the good work he has begun, and in the future as in the past, proves himself “the tribune of the people,” (and we do not doubt but that he will do it,) his name will be associated in history with that of the other Andrew of Tennessee and immorality will crown his memory with the plaudits of the good in all future time.

4. Resolved, That as white soldiers we cannot support any party which favors negro suffrage and negro equality – that refuses to admit new territories while the word white remains in the declaration of qualification of voters – which sympathizes with negro interests in preference to the cause of the poor of our own color – which wastes all its time in providing for the freedmen and cannot be induced to equalize our bounties, and believing that John W. Geary, the Radical candidate for Governor, is a follower of Thad Stevens, and is fully committed to the cause of the Disunionists in Congress, and is the enemy of the conciliatory policy of the President, we cannot and will not support him at the polls.  We call upon our fellow soldiers everywhere to remember that the party that Geary is a candidate of has repeatedly declared in Congress, through its press and on the stump, that the was could not have been ended but for the bravery and assistance of the blacks, giving to the negro the credit which alone was merited by our white soldiers.

5. Resolved, That we believe that Hon. HIESTER CLYMER, the Democratic Candidate for Government, holds the same sentiments in relation to Federal and State affairs, that we do; that he supports the administration of the President in the great leading measures which have characterized it; that he is a gentleman of unsullied private character and approved statesmanship, and during the whole period of the war, as proved by his Senatorial record, was the firm friend of the soldier in the field, voting for an increase of pay and protection of his family in his absence, and while demagogues and loyal, stay-at-home patriots only talked, he acted by contributing his own means to the support of our interests.


News clippings are from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Obituary of Henry Lichtley – Claimed To Be One of First Trained at Camp Curtin

Posted By on April 25, 2016

The obituary of Henry Lichtley appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph, 31 March 1924:



One of the first soldiers to be trained in the Union camp at Camp Curtin, this city [Harrisburg], during the Civil War, died last Friday in the Pottstown Hospital from complications caused by old age.  He was in his eighty-fifth year.

The veteran, Henry Lichtley, enlisted in Company B, 50th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry [50th Pennsylvania Infantry], and was enrolled 3 September 1861, to serve during the war.  The company was organized at Reading, from where it was sent to Harrisburg and went into Camp Curtin.  From Harrisburg they were sent to Washington and later to Annapolis, Maryland.

After Mr. Lichtley had been at Annapolis a few days he and his comrades were sent by boat to South Carolina and while on the ocean they encountered a storm which lasted for two days and a half during which the vessel they were in shipped nine and a half feet of water, and lightning struck a mast.  Lichtley was thrown down a hatchway by the force of the lightning shock, sustaining a bad leg injury.

He figured in the first engagement his regiment took part in, however, at Fort Royal, South Carolina, where he was under fire three days and three nights.  Disabilities suffered then were responsible for his discharge on 30 November 1861, after less than two months service.


News clipping from Newspapers.com.