Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Lykens Collieries Closed to Allow Attendance at Ku Klux Klan Rally, 1924

Posted By on January 4, 2018

In 1924, a huge ceremonial Ku Klux Klan rally was held at Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, which was attended in great numbers by Klan members and want-to-be Klan members from the Lykens Valley.  Attendance was undoubtedly enhanced by the closing of the collieries from Lykens to Pine Grove and by the special excursion train that originated at Lykens.

This post is a continuation of the reporting on hate groups that were active in the Lykens Valley area in the years following the Civil War.  It was a widely known fact that the third iteration of the Ku Klux Klan had a significant presence in the Lykens Valley and adjacent valleys during the early years of the 20th Century.  This third iteration of the Klan was strongly white supremacist and was opposed to equal rights for African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and immigrants.

From the Lykens Standard, 26 September 1924



The Ku Klux Klan, a growing organization of this section, scored a great triumph at Lebanon last Saturday and staged a parade which proved to be one of the largest fraternal celebrations ever staged in this city.

Organizations from Harrisburg, Reading, Lancaster, Pottstown, Pottsville, Altoona, Newport, York, Tower City, Lykens, and Tremont were in attendance.

The celebration was held in the two twenty-five acre fields of Miles Kreider one-quarter mile west of the Lebanon Fair Grounds, on the Campbelltown Road.

A special excursion train was run from Lykens, meeting delegations at all points into Lebanon, and a total of 1058 passengers boarded the train between this place and Good SpringsLykens sent a delegation of 257; Williamstown, 132; Tower City, 338; Tremont, 97; and Pine Grove, 71.  Good Springs and Keffers are not given in this tabulation as the exact number could not be learned from these places, but a grand total of 1058 took adventure of the ceremonial day, from the Williams Valley.

All collieries between Lykens and Good Springs were closed for the day.

The parade held between 8 and 9 P.M. was more than 12 city blocks in length.  Klanswomen from the different places in attendance with large delegations.

The grounds where the proceedings and naturalization was held was crowded all afternoon and evening, and it was estimated that more than 4000 were in attendance, while the parking space for cars cared for over 2000 autos.

In the afternoon athletic drills and daylight fireworks were in order.  The Chemical Band of Lebanon gave a concert.  After the parade, a Lebanon couple were married by a Harrisburg preacher.  The ceremony was not as elaborate as planned because of the rain.

The display of fireworks in the evening were one of the finest overseen in Lebanon.  The rain did not seem to affect their display.

After nine o’clock the initiation of naturalization, as it is called by the Klan, was staged.  One hundred and fifty candidates, most from Lebanon, and some from other regions were taken in,  The ceremony was very impressive, with the three crosses burning in the background, the women’s chorus singing, and the band playing.  The York team did the initiation and had charge of all work on the field.

The farm was the ideal place to hold the ceremony.  The fields sloped down to a perfect amphitheatre when the Klan worked and the crowds stood on the slopes.

National speakers were on the program, but because of the rain the speeches were postponed for some other occasion which they are planning.

Everything was quiet and orderly during the parade, and on the grounds and the the crowds were handled with ease on the roads near the Kreider farm.


News article from Newspapers.com.



Samuel Wenrich & Amelia [Faust] Wenrich – Both War Veterans?

Posted By on January 2, 2018

Buried together at the St. Paul (Artz) Cemetery in Sacramento, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, are two veterans of the Civil War, or so it would seem from the bronze G.A.R. flag-holder markers adjacent to their grave stones.  Samuel Wenrich and Amelia [Faust] Wenrich were husband and wife.  This is one of the few graves in the Lykens Valley area where a woman received the honor of having her own veteran marker.

According to information found on Ancestry.com and at the Pennsylvania Archives, Samuel Wenrich was born in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, about 1841, the son of Thomas Wenrich and his wife Susanna Wenrich.  At the time of the Civil War when he was about 23 years old, he was recruited into the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company D, at Pottsville, and two days later was mustered into service as a Private.   He gave his occupation as “wood chopper,” which was quite different from others already in this regiment, many of whom were coal miners.  He stood nearly 5 foot 9 inches tall, had a light complexion, light hair and grey eyes.  He served his term, mainly taking part in the battles about Petersburg, and was honorably discharged on 17 July 1865.

Amelia Faust was born 27 May 1844 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Reuben Eirich Faust (1818-1890) and Mary Ann “Polly” [Bohn} Faust (1812-1874).  She died on 24 December 1920 in Reading, Berks County.  From the date of birth of her first known child, it is believed that she married Samuel Wenrich during the Civil War.

A close-up photograph (above) of the bronze emblem at her grave notes that she was a U. S. War Veteran [of the] G.A .R.


A close-up of the inscription on her grave marker notes that she was a member of the “Women’s Relief Corps G.A.R.”

An article that appeared in the Lykens Standard, 5 June 1908, told the following story about her:


A Family Reunion

A family reunion was held at the home of Mrs. Amelia Wenrich in Williamstown, on 26 May 1907.  Mrs. Wenrich is the widow of a Civil War veteran and a member of the Women’s Relief Corps and United Brethren Church of Williamstown, and enjoyed the home-coming of her children very much and hopes for many repetitions of the event.  She received several nice presents.  The following were present:

D. E. Williams and family, Tower City; C. S. Wenrich and family, Bear Valley; U. Wenrich and son, Harrisburg; R. T. Wenrich and family, Elizabethville; F. A. Wenrich, H. O. Wenrich, Jennie V. Faust, Reading; R. W. Bowman and family, Artz; Archie Bowman and family, Linglestown; Levi Wenrich, Adam Row and wife; Mrs. Benjamin Martz, Miss Jane Jamison, William Jones son and daughter; William Carl and wife, Mrs. John Matter, Miss Elizabeth Kirchhoff, Williamstown; Mrs. Bert Schrauder, Steelton.

No other articles have been located identifying Amelia Wenrich as a member of the Women’s Relief Corps.  However, an active chapter of this group existed into the 1950s in Lykens Borough, and when the Lykens G.A.R. Monument was erected early in the 20th century, this group took an active part in the raising of funds and worked in conjunction with surviving war veterans to honor them.  Surprisingly, if Amelia Wenrich was a member of the women’s group at Lykens, her husband was not named on the monument.

Amelia [Faust} Wenrich is found in the 1860 census for Lykens Township, where she was living with her parents and siblings.  In 1880, after marriage to Samuel Wenrich, she and her husband and children are found in that census for Tremont, Schuylkill County, where Samuel was working in the coal mines.  In 1890, the family was in Hubley Township, Schuylkill County, where Samuel reported his service in the 48th Pennsylvania InfantrySamuel Wenrich died on 5 April 1899.  In 1900 and 1910, the widow Amelia was named as head of family, living in Williamstown.

The Pension Index Card for Samuel Wenrich is shown above [from Fold3].  It indicates that Samuel applied for pension benefits on 30 June 1880, which he received and collected until his death, which is confirmed on the card at 5 April 1899.

However, the Pension Index Card for Samuel Wenrich shown above [from Ancestry.com] gives the date of Amelia’s application as 22 April 1899, but does not indicate that Samuel applied or received benefits.  Also, it should be noted that the surname is spelled Wenrick on this latter card.

Addition information is sought about both Samuel Wenrich and Amelia [Faust] Wenrich.  Readers who can add to the story of these two veterans are urged to add comments to this post!


News clipping from Newspapers.com.


In What Emergency Regiment Did Benjamin Werner Serve?

Posted By on December 30, 2017

In the 1890 Census for Mable, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, Benjamin Werner reported that he served as a Private in Company A of a regiment known as the “Home Guards.”  His dates of service were given as 4 July 1863 to 25 August 1863, or a total of one month and twenty-one days.

Benjamin Werner has not been located in any emergency regiment.

Research on Ancestry.com has helped determine that this Benjamin Werner was born on 28 March 1835 in Pennsylvania, the son of George Casper Werner and Sarah [Moser] Werner.  Benjamin is found in 1850 in the Barry Township, Schuylkill County census, living with his parents and siblings.  In 1880, he was single and living in Barry Township and working as a farmer.  In 1900, he was a widower in Barry Township, working as a carpenter.  And in 1910, he was a widower, working odd jobs in Barry Township.  He died in Barry Township on 12 January 1913.  According to his death certificate, he was buried in Kimmel’s Cemetery in Barry Township.

More information is sought about this man who, in 1890, claimed to be a Civil War veteran.  Anyone with knowledge of his service is urged to add a comment to this blog post.



Massive Ku Klux Klan Rally in Millersburg, 1925

Posted By on December 28, 2017

On Saturday, 13 June 1925, the Ku Klux Klan planned for a celebration to be held at Millersburg‘s Park, Millersburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  The article promoting the event was interesting in that it claimed the celebration would bring back the “old-time way” of celebrating the past.  The Klan also claimed the American flag as its own symbol and even used the word “naturalization” for its induction into membership.

This post is a continuation of the reporting on hate groups that were active in the Lykens Valley area in the years following the Civil War.  It was a widely known fact that the third iteration of the Ku Klux Klan had a significant presence in the Lykens Valley and adjacent valleys during the early years of the 20th Century.  This third iteration of the Klan was strongly white supremacist and was opposed to equal rights for African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and immigrants.

From the Lykens Standard, 12 June 1925:


The Ku Klux Klan of this place are making arrangements to hold celebration in Millersburg Park on Saturday, 13 June 1935.  Committees of the various Klans in this vicinity were appointed several weeks ago to cooperate with the Millersburg members of the order, and the encouragement received from Klans in the Upper End indicate that the turn out will be the largest gathering of the Klan and their friends ever held in the Upper End of the county.

The park will be profusely decorated with the emblem of the Klan – the American flag – and the entertainment will continue all day with all kinds of games and amusements to suit both old and young people. The Klan band of Harrisburg and Lykens will be at the park all day to render music for the occasion.  Refreshments of all kinds will be for sale.

There will be a parade in the evening, and it is expected to be the largest of the kind ever held in this section of the country.  Speakers of a national reputation will be present.  There will be Naturalization in short form.  In the evening there will be a grand display of fireworks on the river front, which will bring to the remembrance of the older residents the old-time way of celebrating the natal day of the past.


News article from Newspapers.com.

Willoughby Walt – 208th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on December 26, 2017

Willoughby Z. Walt died on 20 January 1916 and is buried at the Herndon Cemetery, Herndon, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.  He is found in the records as both Wald and Walt and his middle initial is found as both “C” and “Z.”


Records at the Pennsylvania Archives shown above) indicate that a Willoughby C. Wald served in the 208th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A.  Other records confirm this service, which was at the rank of Private, from 26 August 1864 through honorable discharge on 1 June 1865.


The following information was taken from the Genealogical & Biographical Annals of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, by J. L. Floyd, published in 1911:

Willoughby Z. Walt, son of Willoughby Wald and Madelina [Ziegler] Wald, is a native of Georgetown (Dalmatia), Northumberland County, born  17 April 1841.   In his earlier manhood, he followed farm work and in June 1869, he began work on the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad as a section hand.  In 1877 he became section foreman on the Herndon Branch, a position he held over 20 years, during which time he came to be regarded as one of the capable employees of the company.  Since1900 he has been retired from active work of a laborious nature.  He has served four years as Supervisor of Herndon, and has been a useful citizen.

During the Civil war he was a private in Company A, 208th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry [208th Pennsylvania Infantry], with which he took part in the engagement at Fort Steadman, in 1865, and at the taking at Fort Mahone, 2 April1865.  He made a credible record in the army for faithful and honorable service.

In politics he is a Republican.

In 1866 Mr. Walt married Amanda Sultzbaugh, daughter of Jacob Sultzbaugh of Dauphin County, and they have had five children:

Mary Walt married Charles W. Umholtz and they live in Philadelphia;

William Augustus Walt, born Aug 31,1871, married Sarah Bordner;

Kate Walt married Charles W. Bogar of Herndon;

Henry Walt was drowned in 1871 when eighteen months old;

Reuben Walt was killed while playing baseball in Herndon in 1906.

Mr. Walt and his family are members of the Reformed Church.


The Pension Index Card, shown above from Ancestry.com, indicates that Willoughby C. Walt applied for disability benefits on 7 June 1892, which he received and collected until his death.  His widow, Amanda Walt, applied on 16 February 1916, and she too received benefits.


Willoughby C. Walt died on 20 January 1916 of nervous exhaustion as confirmed by his Pennsylvania Death Certificate, shown above from Ancestry.com. His occupation at the time of death was “retired track foreman on the Reading Railroad.”  His widow was the informant.


Following the death of Willoughby C. Walt, the heirs went to Sunbury to probate the will:

From the Mount Carmel Item, 29 January 1916:


While newspapermen were in the county register and recorder’s office at Sunbury Thursday morning waiting to hear the text of the last will and testament of the late Willoughby Wald, of Herndon, Register and Recorder Carr was confronted with a peculiar problem.  The heirs and witnesses came to the office to have the will probated and all formalities were carried through, when it was discovered that they had forgotten the most important part, the will.  Of course, nothing further could be done and the party went back to their home and returned in the afternoon with the prized document, after which the will was formally probated.


From the Harrisburg Evening News, 27 March 1923:


HERNDON, 27 March 1923 — Funeral services for Mrs. Amanda Walt, widow of Willoughby Walt, who died at her home here Sunday night, will be held tomorrow morning.  Burial will be in the local cemetery.  She was 83 years old, and leaves a son and two daughters.


News clippings are from Newspapers.com.  Some additional information can be found at his Findagrave Memorial.