Civil War Blog

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The Promotion and Resignation of Edward Gratz Jr.

Posted By on July 18, 2014


Edward Gratz Jr. died on 22 October 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,  A notice of his death appeared in Textile World:

Edward Gratz

Edward Gratz, cotton goods broker, with offices at 242 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, died Saturday, 22 October, after an illness of two weeks of pneumonia.  Mr. Graz [sic] was 80 years old.  He was the last survivor of the 121st Pennsylvania Volunteers [121st Pennsylvania Infantry] in the Civil War.

Edward Gratz Jr. was born in Pennsylvania, 24 December 1841, the son of Edward Gratz (1806-1850) and Caroline [Vandover] Gratz (born about 1815 in New Jersey, died 11 December 1896).  His grandfather was Simon Gratz (1773-1839), the founder of Gratz, Pennsylvania, and his great grandfather was Michael Gratz (1740-1811), a merchant of Philadelphia.

Edward Gratz Jr. is buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia.



During the Civil War, Edward Gratz Jr. served in the 121st Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H, as a 1st Lieutenant, from September 1862 until May 1863, when he received a promotion.  This information, except for his rank, is shown on the Veterans’ Index Card (above, from the Pennsylvania Archives) and the Pension Index Card (above, from Fold3).  For the promotion information, although suggested in the additional remarks as “Major and P. M. [Pay Master] of U.S. Volunteers,” further research is necessary.

Turing to Fold3, the documents can be found which verify the application for, the promotion of, and the later resignation of Edward Gratz Jr.

Application (5 pages):


For the promotion, Edward Gratz needed a letter of recommendation which he received.  In that Major George Pomeroy, then current Paymaster of the Army was retiring effective 1 May 1863, it was suggested that Gratz be appointed to that position.  “[Gratz] commanded his company at Fredericksburg and behaved heroically but he is broken in health and is now quite ill in the hospital.”


Recommendation and Promotion (5 pages):


In a letter sent to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Edwin Gratz recommended another man, Thomas Foster for transfer to a “more genial climate” for health concerns.  At the foot of this letter, Gov. James Pollock noted his concurrence in the recommendation of Gratz because Gratz was a “gentleman worth of our confidence and regard.”  This letter served as corroboration of the integrity of Gratz to be appointed to the Paymaster position.


Acknowledgment of Appointment (2 pages):


On 19 May 1863, from Washington, D.C., Edward Gratz wrote to Brigadier General L. Thomas acknowledging the appointment as Assistant Paymaster.


Oath of Office (1 page):


As part of his appointment Gratz had to take an oath of office and sign a document verifying his loyalty to the United States.  That document was signed and witnessed at Washington, D.C., 26 May 1863, five days before the Battle of Gettysburg.


Resignation (6 pages):


On the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Edward Gratz, who had removed from Washington to St. Louis, submitted his resignation to Gen. Thomas:  “In consequence of continue ill health I am unable to perform the duties of my office.  Therefore I have the honor of resigning my appointment….”


Very little is known about the activities of Edward Gratz from the date of the resignation to the recording of his information in the Census of 1870.  What was the the nature of his illness which prevented him from performing the duties of Paymaster?  Did he return immediately to Philadelphia?  Or did he go South and establish contacts for what would be his later vocation – a trader of cotton?

After the Civil War, in 1870, Edward was single and living in the household of his widowed mother Caroline in Philadelphia, and was a working as a dry goods merchant.  That same year he married Frances Donaldson or Donelson (1843-1912) of Tennessee.

In the decade between the next census, three children were born to the couple:  Emma F. Gratz, born about 1871; Sydney Gratz, born about 1876; Norman Gratz, born about 1879; and Violet Gratz, born in January 1880.

In 1880, the family was living in Philadelphia and Edward was a commission-merchant of dry goods.  In 1883, the youngest child was born – Thomas Donelson Gratz.  In 1890, he reported as a Civil War-related disability that he had to resign his military commission because of ill health.  On 1 April 1904, he first applied for a veteran’s pension, which he soon-after received; apparently, the ill health which resulted in his resignation, did not plague enough him during his business dealings – and he waited for 14 years after old age was a legitimate reason for a pension (1890).

Wife Frances died in 1912.  The Census of 1920 saw Edward still living in Philadelphia and still working (at age 79) as a dry goods merchant.


On 23 October 1921, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported his obituary, but avoided any mention of his military service:


Edward Gratz Was Brother of Former Board of Education President

Edward Gratz, a prominent cotton broker, died yesterday morning from an attack of pneumonia.  He had been ill two weeks.  His home was at the Newport Apartments, Sixteenth and Spruce Streets.

Mr. Gratz was a brother of Simon Gratz, former president of the Board of Education, and also of Harry Gratz and Alfred Gratz.  He was a widower, his wife, Mrs. Frances Donaldson Gratz having died ten years ago.

He is survived by a daughter, Miss Violet Gratz, and two sons, Thomas D. Gratz and Norman Gratz.

Mr. Gratz is eighty years old. He has been in the cotton brokerage business many years, with offices at 242 Chestnut Street.

Many questions are left unanswered about the Civil War service of Edward Gratz.  Additional research into the military and pension records may provide some answers.  His career as a cotton broker, based in Philadelphia, also needs further examination – how it was that he was able to enter this market and capitalize on the South’s key agricultural crop and build a business enterprise around it in the latter part of the 19th Century.  Also missing at this point are photographs of Edward Gratz and his family members – although a picture of the brother, Simon Gratz, has been located.

Add comments to this post or send an e-mail with answers.


The complete document file on the promotion and resignation of Edward Gratz is available at Fold3.  Census returns are available on Ancestry.com.  Samples and information from those documents are presented in this blog post.  The news clippings are from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia. For two stories on his brother, Simon Gratz, see:  Was Simon Gratz a Civil War Veteran? and Simon C. Gratz – Son of First Mayor of Gratz, Pennsylvania.


Monuments at Gettysburg – 11th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on July 16, 2014

The 11th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument at Gettysburg is located northwest of Gettysburg on Doubleday Avenue.  It was dedicated on 3 September 1889 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The view of the monument pictured above is from Steven Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has more information about the monument and the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry.

A full description of the monument, its GPS coordinates, and some of the history of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site. There are also additional photographs of the monument, including a close-up of the dog “Sallie” whose image lies at the base on a pedestal – one of only two dogs depicted on Gettysburg battlefield monuments.

Eight days after the monument dedication, 11 September 1889, the Philadelphia Inquirer provided the following information about the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry:



They Captured Iverson’s Brigade

The 11th, as it crossed the Pennsylvania line, gave three cheers upon hearing the cannonade at Gettysburg, and hastening forward was massed with the brigade near the railroad embankment, just in the rear of Seminary Ridge.  The 11th was under Colonel Richard Coulter.  The advances of the enemy each time with fresh troops were met with a galling fire.  Failing to force the position, the 11th made a sally and captured three regiments of Iverson’s North Carolina Brigade.  Both flanks of the Union army having been turned, the 11th retired along the railroad to Cemetery Hill and moving to the left about 5 o’clock, formed near the Emmittsburg Road.  When upon the point of moving to the support of Captain Ricketts’s batteries on the front of the hill Colonel Coulter was wounded, but remained in command.  During the whole of the third night the regiment was engaged in strengthening its breastworks.


Richard Coulter (1827-1908)

Lt. Col. Richard Coulter was from Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, and joined the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry in Harrisburg on 11 April 1861 as Captain of Company I.  On 26 April 1861 he was promoted to headquarters as Lieutenant Colonel.  He was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Richard Coulter died on 14 October 1907 and was buried in Saint Clair Cemetery, Greensburg.  His Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card (shown below) is from the Pennsylvania Archives.


More information about Lt. Col. Richard Coulter can be found at his Findagrave Memorial.


Around the base of the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg are a series of plaques which, by regiment and company, note the names of every soldier who was present at the Battle of Gettysburg.  The plaque for the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry is pictured below.  By clicking on the plaque it should enlarge so the names can be more clearly read.  If a name does not appear, it could be that the soldier did serve in the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, but was not part of the regiment during its days at Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.



The news clipping is from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Michael Polm – Died in Government Hospital in 1917

Posted By on July 14, 2014


Previously on this blog, Michael Polm was featured as part of the post entitled Methodist Cemetery, Williamtown (Part 3 of 3).  The following was then stated:

Michael Polm (1835-1917).  According to pension records, Michael Polm first served in the 10th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F, as a Private, from 26 April 1861 through 31 July 1861.  He later served in the 127th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company D, as a Private, from 9 August 1862 through 3 May 1863.  During this second tour of duty, he was wounded at Chancellorsville, 3 May 1863.  Michael lived in the Fisherville area of Dauphin County and the Washington Township area where he worked as a general laborer.  Later, he and his wife, Angeline Schoffstall (also known as Engeline) moved to WilliamstownMichael Polm became ill and was admitted to the Government Hospital for the Insane on 12 July 1916., previously having been admitted to the Veteran’s Home in Dayton, Ohio.  His cause of death was ruled as “senile psychosis.”

Some supporting documentation and additional information can now be presented:


From the pension file (above), Michael Polm‘s physical characteristics are given:  He claimed to be 23 years old at the time of his enrollment, and was 5 foot 9 inches tall, had a fair complexion, black hair and brown eyes.  His place of birth was said to be Messenberg, Ohio, and he was working as a blacksmith.

Two addition items related to his military record are presented below (from the Pennsylvania Archives):


The top card gives Michael Polm‘s enrollment place as Lykens and his residence as the same place.  When he enrolled for his first service, his occupation was laborer and for his second service, his occupation was blacksmith.  On neither card is there a physical description.

PolmMichael-007aPresented as part of his pension application for increased benefits was a statement (above) of marriage to Evangeline Schoffstall, which took place in Fisherville, Dauphin County, and was performed by Rev. N. E. Bressler.  He also named all his living children and the date of their birth:  Emanuel Polm, 7 April 1865;  Mary Ellen Polm, born 14 April 1867; Albert F. Polm, born 13 February 1869; John H. Polm, born 15 February 1871; Wilson O. Polm, born 3 January 1875; and Lottie M. Polm, born 16 February 1881.  The statement was made on 3 November 1898.


Click on document to enlarge.

The Soldiers’ Home record from 1916 (shown above, from Ancestry.com) notes Polm’s illnesses that he believed were incurred as a result of his service and included: defective vision and hearing, gastritis, and rheumatism.  His closest relative was his son Wilson who lived in Lykens at the time.  This record also states that his hair (as well as his eyes) had turned gray, and that he grew two inches in height since his military days.  The date of death of 26 November is given and occurred at “G.H.I.”, an abbreviation for Government Hospital for the Insane.


Click on document to enlarge.

Michael Polm‘s death was also noted in the registers at Dayton, Ohio, where he died (shown above, from Ancestry.com).


The Pension Index Card from Fold3 (shown above), gives the same date of death and the place of death as Washington, D.C.  This card also gives the pension application date as 27 August 1879.  This relatively early pension application date is an indication that the wounds Michael received at Chancellorsville were problematic to him.

In the years after the Civil War, Michael Polm worked as a laborer/day laborer in Washington Township, Dauphin County (as per 1870 census).  By 1900, he moved to Williamstown.


For his service, Michael Polm is recognized on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument.

Additional information is sought about Michael Polm.

Albert P. Schoffstall – 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on July 11, 2014


Albert P. Schoffstall (1830-1902) is buried at the Donaldson Cemetery, Donaldson, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.


He was a Civil War veteran having served in the 6th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company G, as a 2nd Lieutenant.  On 22 April 1861 Albert enrolled at Llewellyn, Schuylkill County and then reported to Harrisburg to be mustered into service.  At the time, he indicated that he was working as a miner and that he lived in Donaldson.

SchoffstallAlbertP-003aIn a pension declaration made in 1890 (above), Albert P. Schoffstall gave a physical description of himself – that he was 5 foot 8 inches tall, had a light complexion, and light hair, and black eyes.  In 1890, he was suffering from miner’s asthma and had defective eye sight.  From information on the Pension Index Card from Fold3, (shown below), Albert P. Schoffstall received the pension for which he applied.  His death date of 16 January 1902 is noted on the card as well as the fact that a widow also applied and received a pension based on his service.


Albert P. Schoffstall was born in Gratz Borough, Dauphin County, on 22 December 1830, the son of Ludwig “Lewis” Schoffstall (1780-1861) and his wife Elizabeth.  He had two known brothers: Lewis Henry Schoffstall, born about 1828; and Joseph A. Schoffstall, born about 1833.   Ludwig, the father, died about one month before Albert enrolled in the 6th Pennsylvania Infantry.

Some time around 1850, Albert married Elizabeth Minnich.  Children born of this marriage included:  William, born about 1851; and Minnie, born about 1869.


Elizabeth died in 1885 and is buried in the Donaldson Cemetery, in the family plot where Albert would later be buried when he died on 16 January 1902.

Albert then re-married to Susan [Lehman] Wetzel who had previously been married to John Wetzel about whom not much is known at this time, except that he was from Pine Grove.  While this re-marriage created some confusion when Albert applied for a pension in 1890, it was easily straightened out by providing proof of marriage and death of those concerned – which made it relatively easy for the 2nd wife Susan to apply for widow’s benefits.  Susan did not die until 1918, so as the 2nd wife and survivor, she was able to collect the widow’s pension.   This information is shown on the Pension Index Card (below) from Ancestry.com.


The Pension Index Card (above) from Ancestry.com surprisingly does not mention the pension application of Albert but gives the application date for Susan.

SchoffstallAlbertP-009aFinally, the “Record Proof of Death of Soldier,” (above) reports on when and where Albert P. Schoffstall died and where he was buried.  Click on the document to enlarge it.

This post combines several sources to get a broad picture of the life and military duty of Albert P. Schoffstall who served in the 6th Pennsylvania Infantry for three months in Company G as a 2nd Lieutenant.  The grave marker pictures are from Findagrave.  Some of the documents are from the pension application files available at the National Archives.  The Veterans’ Index Card is from the Pennsylvania Archives.  Genealogical information is from A Comprehensive History of the Town of Gratz Pennsylvania.  Other documents are from Fold3 and from Ancestry.com.

No veteran’s story is complete until personal information is included that can only be provided by family and those who knew him.  That’s why readers are always encouraged to contribute information to these blog posts.

Jacob Shiro – Some News Stories

Posted By on July 9, 2014

Today’s blog post will feature some interesting news stories about Jacob Shiro.

Jacob Shiro was born in Wittenberg, Germany, on 19 February 1843, the son of Jacob Shiro and Susan [Bellon] Shiro. He arrived in the United States around 185 at the age of eight.  During the Civil War, he served in Company G, 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry, as a Private, from 14 March 1865 through discharge on 25 June 1865.

From the Harrisburg Patriot, 15 September 1891:


While Jacob Shiro and wife, of Gratz, were driving to Harrisburg yesterday morning their horse became frightened and threw both out of the buggy.  Mr. Shiro was slightly injured.

From the Harrisburg Patriot, 30 July 1902:




Engine Wrecked and Colliery Buildings Near Gratz Burned as Result

Building Near Gratz Burned as a Result


Mines Had Been Operated During Strike by Individual Owner, Supplying Local Trade Only



Special to The Patriot. 

Elizabethville, 29 July 1902.   The explosion of a gasoline engine at the mines of Jacob Shiro, an individual operator, at Short Mountain, near Gratz, wrecked the power house of the colliery and destroyed by fire the breaker and storage house.  The loss is not estimated but will run into thousands of dollars, a portion of which is covered by insurance.  The cause of the explosion is unknown at this time, but the general belief is that the gasoline tank of the engine leaked and that a spark came into contact with the escaping fluid.  The engineer, whose name could not be learned, and several foreign workmen, were badly injured but will survive.


The flames from the wrecked power house were communicated at once to the adjoining buildings and all destroyed, no fire fighting apparatus adequate to fight the flames being available.  The loss in mined coal will be considerable.  The strike of the hard coal workers has not affected the Shiro workings, which supply only local trade.  There are no union men employed there.  It is said that the mines will be put into operation again as soon as possible.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, 12 September 1902:


Mining Coal in Farming District.

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, 11 September 1902 — The anthracite coal mines of Jacob Shiro, near Gratz, this county, are yielding as fine quality of coal as has ever been mine in Lykens Valley, and notwithstanding that prices have abnormally advanced elsewhere, Mr. Shiro continues filling orders at the old rates. Large quantities are being hauled from Gratz to Millersburg by team, a distance of seventeen miles.

From the Harrisburg Patriot, 14 September 1903:


Jacob Shiro, one of our reliable merchants, intends to retire from the mercantile business.


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