Civil War Blog

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Obituary of Frank N. Douden of Millersburg

Posted By on February 20, 2015

On 23 March 1917 a brief obituary appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot noting the death of a prominent businessman of Millersburg, Frank N. Douden.  Although the obituary gave his middle initial as “S,” it is the same person who served in the Civil War in Company G of the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry.


Frank S. Douden – Following a serious operation at the Harrisburg Hospital, Frank N. Douden, a prominent business man and church worker of Millersburg, died at that institution yesterday morning.  He was admitted several weeks ago.  Mr. Douden was 70 years old and was foreman and part owner of the A. Douden Planing Mill company, conducted in the name of his brother at Millersburg.


According to his death certificate (above from Ancestry.com), Frank N. Douden was born in England on 14 August 1842 to George Douden and Elizabeth [Nicholas] Douden.  The cause of death was given as “shock from operation.”


As for his military record, Franklin Douden first enlisted in the 10th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F, as a Sergeant in Lykens on 26 April 1861 and served a full 3 month term.  He was honorably discharged on 31 July 1861.  At the time of his enrollment, he gave his age as 19 and his occupation as carpenter.  The card shown above, from the Pennsylvania Archives, is a record of that enlistment.


For his second enlistment, Franklin Douden enrolled in the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company G, as a Sergeant, in Lykens, on 23 September 1861.  He was then mustered into service at Pottsville.

There are two records that indicate what happened to him while serving in the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry:


The casualty sheet (above) indicates that F. N. Douden, a member of the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company G, was “wounded in hip slightly” at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on 3 May 1863.


The second document is two cards from the Military Index Records which note that F. N. Douden or Franklin Douden was considered a deserter at Gettysburg, 2 July 1863.  One of those cards also gives personal information about him at the time of his enlistment:  He was born in England, worked as a carpenter, was 19 years old in September 1861, had dark complexion, black hair, black eyes, and was 5 foot, 6 1/2 inches tall.  The desertion information is also confirmed in Bates.

No record has been found that Frank N. Douden ever applied for a pension and he has not been located in the 1890 Veterans’ Census.


However, the name Frank Douden appears on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument under 1st Sergeants.  His name is in the category of those who served in the war but were not members of the Heilner Post.


Frank. N. Douden is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Millersburg next to his wife, Elizabeth [Dannenhower] Douden.  There is no G.A.R. star-flag holder at his grave.

The following entries from the Diary of Henry Keiser help explain the circumstances of the desertion of Frank N. Douden:

Thursday, October 31, 1961. The non-commissioned officers were appointed today by our captain and 2nd Lieutenant Fessig from Hamburg, Berks County, who brought a good squad to camp and they were consolidated with our company. I was appointed 4th Corporal [and] Frank Douden, 1st Sergeant.

Friday, February 7, 1862. The sun shines bright. I was detailed as guard by the 1st Sergeant this morning at eight o’clock. Was Corporal of the 2nd Relief. [Note:  1st Sergeants at the time were John Williams and Frank N. Douden].

Tuesday, July 29, 1862. The regiment went out on picket at 9 this p.m. I was put on guard at brigade headquarters by our 1st Sergeant Frank Douden, when he knew I was not fit. Got a heavy fever while there and taken to my quarters and Douden was reprimanded by the officer in charge for sending me.

Sunday, October 12, 1862. It was cold and windy last night and is still so this morning. Had our arms and accoutrements inspected by the orderly. F. Douden this forenoon.

Wednesday, April 22, 1863. It is still cloudy but no rain. We were relieved by the 95th P. V. [95th Pennsylvania Infantry] at noon. We drawed bread when we arrived in camp. I signed a list recommending F. N. Douden for promotion. Had Dress Parade at five p.m.

Friday, May 18, 1863. Left for Acqula Creek at 8 a.m. and arrived there near non. I then took the cars for Falmouth Station, Virginia, from there I started on foot to find my Regiment, which I did this evening in their old camp. The Regiment was badly used up at the Battle of Fredericksburg, fought last Sunday. Edwin Mayer had a finger shot off. John Rence had a wound in the head. Lafayette Billig, wounded in the leg. Louis Fretz, slightly wounded and 1st Sergeant Frank Douden wounded in the thigh. All our Company (G). Jacob Nice returned to the Regiment.

Thursday, July 2, 1863. Instead of turning to the left last night we should have turned to the right, and by the time we were fairly started on the right road it was daylight. At 8:30 this morning we crossed the line into Pennsylvania, at ten a.m. we passed through Littlestown. The citizens along the line of march could not do enough for us. Most every house hold standing reading with water buckets, dealing out water to the boys as we marched along and the stars and stripes hanging out in all directions. It made us feel as if we were home once more, and the citizens of Southern Pennsylvania, through their kindness to the soldiers have put new life into us. Can hear heavy cannonading ahead all day. At five o’clock this evening we arrived at what is called Round Top, a short distance from Gettysburg. Very heavy fighting to our left, at five o’clock. At six this evening we filed left, marched some distance, when we formed a line of battle on a knoll and in some underbrush; Our troops gave way and the Rebs drove our men. The Pennsylvania Reserve forming in our front, counter charged the Rebs, our line following up sharp. The enemy was driven back and we regained the ground lost a short time before. We battled in a hollow behind a stone fence, having marched since last evening thirty two miles at the time we formed a battle line. I threw my knapsack portfolio, being too tired to carry it in the charge, but after advancing a short distance, the Regiment was halted and the men unslung knapsacks and had guards placed over them. As we were going in, Gen. Sickles was carried past on a stretcher. 1st Sgt. Frank Douden, W. D. Ferree, John Glass, and John Romberger are back this evening.

Saturday, July 4, 1863. OK has been cloudy ever since we were on the march. Rained little last night. All is great along the line this morning. I picked up a tent and green blanket while going over to the battlefield. The Rebs are over a mile from here. At ten o’clock a.m. —–. Post was made in fence and then returned to our old position. It was though the Rebs were learning, but it was a mistake. First Sergeant F. N. Henden [Douden?] — [Note: at this point the handwriting changes and the text begins to make more sense] not yet made his appearance and it is thought he has deserted.

Thursday, August 20, 1863. My leg is still very sore. Finished Cousin Lucy’s letter and sent it off. Heard that W. D. Ferree who left us on “French Leave” in July 2, 1863, was at home and that 1st Sergeant F. N. Douden who deserted July 2nd, 1863 while on march to Gettysburg was at Minersville. Received a letter from brother George. Had Dress Parade. Very hot.

Additional information is sought on Frank N. Douden.  Please add comments to this blog post or send by e-mail.


The news clipping is from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.  The military records are from the file of Frank N. Douden available from the National Archives.



Monuments at Gettysburg – 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on February 19, 2015


The 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument at Gettysburg is located south of the town of Gettysburg near Wheatfield Road.  It was dedicated in 1889 and turned over to the Memorial Association.

The drawing of the monument pictured above is from a Philadelphia Inquirer article of 11 September 1889.

A picture of the monument can be seen on Stephen Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has more information about the monument and the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry.

A full description of the monument, its GPS Coordinates, additional photographs, and some of the history of the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry, can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.


A brief description of the regiment was given in the Philadelphia Inquirer article of 11 September 1889:

In Front of Weikert’s House.

The 102nd Regiment, though on the field of Gettysburg, was not engaged. It was recruited at Pittsburgh by Colonel Thomas A. RowleyJoseph M. Kinkead was Lieutenant Colonel; John Poland, Major; Joseph Browne, Adjutant.

The 102nd was praised by General Wheaton for especial gallantry at Chancellorsville.  Its position in Wheaton’s brigade at Gettysburg was on commanding ground to the right and front of Little Round Top along a by-road and just in front of Weikert’s house.



Robert W. Lyon is named on the tablet (below) of the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry as 2nd Lieutenant of Company H.  His role at Gettysburg was as the leader of a detachment of men sent to the field while the remainder of the men from the regiment stayed behind to guard trains and roads outside the area of battle.

Lyon was from Butler County, Pennsylvania, and was a 19-year old blacksmith when he first enrolled in the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry.  He was mustered in at Pittsburgh on 16 August 1861 and received his first promotion to Sergeant on 1 February 1862.  On 31 May 1862, he was wounded in action at Fair Oaks, Virginia.  His next promotion was to 2nd Lieutenant on 10 July 1862.  As the Battle of Gettysburg began, he was notified of his promotion to 1st Lieutenant.  Later he was promoted to Captain on 1 October 1864 and was breveted Lieutenant Colonel on 2 April 1865.  Just before his discharge on 28 June 1865 he accepted a commission as Major, 23 June 1865, but he was never mustered at that rank.

After the war he served as Mayor of Pittsburgh (1881-1884).  His pension application was submitted on 25 October 1879.

Robert W. Lyon died on 9 October 1904 and is buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery, McKees Rocks, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.  For more information about him, see 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 102nd 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 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry, but was not part of the regiment during its days at Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.


William T. Harley – Driver for Gov. Curtin, War Veteran & Barber

Posted By on February 18, 2015


The obituary of Billy Harley appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot on 6 August 1904:


Special Despatch to the Patriot

Middletown, Pennsylvania — 4 August 1904  William T. Harley, a picturesque character of this place and a veteran of the Civil War and at one time driver for the late Governor Andrew S. Curtin, died at his home on Market Street last night, after a two weeks’ illness.  He has conducted a barber shop on Water Street for many years and even when this illness became critical, he wanted to conduct his business.  He was a great friend of the children and was known to them as “Uncle Billy.”

Harley was married in 1858 to Miss Ada Jones, who survives him with the following children:  William Harley, of Washington, D.C.; Samuel Harley, of Cuba; and Louis Harley of Highspire.  Harley enlisted in the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry in 1863 and was mustered out in 1865.  The funeral arrangements have not been completed.



During the Civil War, William T. Harley was a member of the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry, Company G.  He enrolled at Boston, Massachusetts, on 28 February 1864, at age 25.  He stood 5 foot, 7 inches tall, was married, had black complexion, black eyes, and black hair.  He claimed Adams County, Pennsylvania, as his birthplace and his occupation at the time of enlistment was barber.  This information was obtained from one of the Military Index Cards (shown above) available from Fold3. On 4 March 1864, he received a promotion to the rank of Sergeant.  William T. Harley was discharged at Brownsville, Texas, on 31 August 1865.

This regiment was organized at Camp Meigs, Readville, Massachusetts, and went into service in May 1864.  Although it was called a cavalry regiment, it was equipped as infantry and served as “dismounted cavalry.”  It should not be confused with the 5th United States Colored Cavalry.

As of this writing, no record made prior to the 1860s has been seen which confirms the birthplace of William T. Harley as Adams County, Pennsylvania.  The only birthplace information for him appears in the military records of the Civil War.

The earliest census record seen for him is of 1860 when he is living in Middletown, Dauphin County, with wife “Ida” and a young son, Charles P. Harley, age 1.  William is working as a laborer at that time.

In 1870, the family is still living in Middletown, with William T. Harley working as a laborer.  In the household is his wife “Adah” and three children:  William A. Harley, age 9; Samuel Harley, age 7; and Lewis Harley, age 4.

In 1880, still in Middletown, William T. Harley is working as barber.  In the household is his wife Ada H. Harley, age 40, and the following offspring:  William Harley, age 19, working as a barber; Samuel Harley, age 16, working as a laborer; Lewis H. Harley, age 14; and Carolina Harley, age 2.

The 1890 Census for East Harrisburg, Dauphin County, has a William Harley who served as a U.S. Soldier during the Civil War, with no other information given.

In 1891, a Sheriff’s Sale took place which included the Middletown property of William T. Harley.  The property, located at Market Street and Fisher Alley, was described in a legal notice which appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot on 14 May 1891 and on subsequent weeks:


The Patriot of 5 June 1891 gave the knock-down price of $550 for the sale.

In 1900, William T. Harley and Adah Harley were living on Market Street in Middletown Borough, in a property owned by them.  William was working as a barber and the Harley’s were operating a boarding house at that location with the following tenants, all African American:  Lizzie Brown, age 28, working as a servant; Noah Brisco, age 49; Arthur H. King, age 21; Robert Wicks, age 47; John Onley, age 39; and Bruce Webb, age 23.  The men who were boarding with the Harley’s were working as laborers.

William T. Harley died on 2 August 1904.  He is buried at the Old Negro Burying Ground in Middletown.  At this writing, the Findagrave Memorial contains very little information about him but additional information has been submitted, particularly about his military record, and may appear on that site by the time of this posting.

Ada Adela Jones was married to William T. Harley about 1858, the location of which has yet to be determined – but probably somewhere in Pennsylvania.

In addition to the previously-mentioned censuses in which she appears with her husband, Ada [Jones] Harley, age 69, is in the 1910 Census for Middletown, living at the corner of Market Street and Fisher Alley, in a property she owned.  She told the census taker she was a widow and during her lifetime she had 5 children, 3 of whom were still living.  She was working as a cook in a restaurant, and had Ada Harley, age 13, her granddaughter, living with her, and a boarder, Mary E. Butler, age 70, no occupation, also living there.

It appears that the same property that William T. Harley lost in a Sheriff’s Sale in 1891, was purchased back by him, and remained in the family well after his death.


Ada Adela [Jones] Harley died on 21 January 1926 of myocardial degeneration and senility as shown by her death certificate (above, from Ancestry.com).  Her son, Louis Harley, provided the information that Ada was born in Dauphin County to Jacob Jones (who was born in Perry County) and Alice Gibbs (also born in Perry County).  Ada Harley is buried in East Middletown Colored Cemetery, but her grave marker has not been located on Findagrave.

Two major questions remain about William T. Harley:  (1) Why did he go to Massachusetts to enroll in a Massachusetts regiment? and (2) What was the connection with Gov. Andrew Curtin?

It is possible that a living descendant has pictures of William and Ida and it also possible that stories have been passed down that could give additional information about this family and the Civil War service of William.  It is also possible that someone has already obtained the pension application files of William T. Harley (application was made on 23 July 1890) and his widow Ada (application was made on 13 August 1904).   The Pension Index Card (shown below, from Ancestry.com), should help any researcher in obtaining these applications from the National Archives in Washington, D.C.:


Comments can be added to this blog post or information can be submitted by e-mail.


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

February is Black History Month.  This brief biographical sketch of William T. Harley is presented in the hope that additional research will take place on him and his Civil War service.




Obituary of Major John W. Simpson

Posted By on February 17, 2015

Major John W. Simpson was an African American Civil War veteran from Philadelphia who settled in Harrisburg after the war.  He died on 6 April 1899 and is buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Harrisburg.  The Harrisburg Patriot commemorated his life with a lengthy obituary:


Prominent Colored Citizen of This City Passes Away at His Home.

Major John W. Simpson, one of the most prominent colored men of this city, died yesterday morning at 6 o’clock at his home, 665 Briggs Street.  Deceased was born 24 February 1835 in Philadelphia where he was educated in the common schools.  In early life he showed rare capacity as a pleasing, forcible public speaker, and in his young manhood was actively engaged in every movement which was made for the improvement of the condition of his race.  During the Civil War Major Simpson became Sergeant of the 24th Regiment, United States Volunteers [24th United States Colored Troops] under Captain Morton Kellog.  After having been honorably discharged he joined the 12th Infantry National Guard of Pennsylvania, commanded by Colonel Wagner, and was soon after made a Major.  On account of his activity on behalf of his people he had a number of narrow escaped from mob violence, and but for the foresight of his wife, who insisted upon his remaining home, he would have lost his life at the time when his friend, Octavius Catto was shot down.

Major Simpson had the honor of being the first colored man to hold a state clerkship.  He was a clerk in the land office under Surveyor General Robert B. Beath during 1872-1875.  At this time he removed to Harrisburg and soon became very prominent in public affairs in this city.  He, associated by several others, began an agitation for graded schools among his people.  As a result of these efforts the Board of Control erected the Lincoln Building on North Street.

Major Simpson organized Post No. 520 Grand Army of the Republic, and became its first commander.  He represented this post in several state and national gatherings.  His record as a Mason was most enviable.  He was for two consecutive terms the grand master of the Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania.  During his administrations many new lodges were organized and all the old ones received new impetus.  He was past grand master of Chosen Friends Lodge, No. 43, Free and Accepted Masons of this city.

Deceased was also an Odd Fellow, being a member of the partiarchie Grand United Order of odd Fellows.  For many years he was a trustee of Brotherly Love Lodge, No. 896, and greatly assisted that lodge in securing the very desirable property which it now owns.  He represented his lodge in the B. M. C., the national assembly at Cincinnati, Washington, and Philadelphia.

Major Simpson took an active interest in politics.  he was alderman of the 8th Ward, preceding Charles Walter, the present incumbent.  Deceased was about 70 years of age, and is survived by a wife and daughter, Miss Marie Simpson.  The funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon from State Street A. M. E. Church.  Masons, Odd Fellows and Grand Army of the Republic men will attend in a body.

From House Divided website at Dickinson College, Carlisle, the following information about John W. Simpson was provided by Brenna McKelvey:

John W. Simpson was born around 1835 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He worked as a shoemaker prior to enlisting in Company E of the 24th United States Colored Troops Regiment. At thirty years old, Simpson enlisted on 23 February 1865 in Philadelphia for a one year term. Simpson was five feet, seven inches tall at the time of his enlistment. The 24th trained at Camp William Penn in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania until they moved to their new station in Washington, D.C. on 5 May 5 1865. The 24th never participated in any active engagements. From 1 June to 16 July 1865, Simpson’s regiment served as guards at a prison at Point Lookout, Maryland. Afterwards the regiment relocated to Richmond, until they mustered out on 1 October 1865. Simpson was promoted to sergeant during his enlistment. He was buried in Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Although the above website accompanies the information about John W. Simpson with a drawn portrait of him, that drawing is of a generic African American soldier.  As of this writing, no actual picture of John W. Simpson has been seen.

Also, at this writing, the Findagrave Memorial for him contains very little information beyond what Brenna McKelvey provided to the Dickinson site.


The Pension Index Card (above, from Fold3) for John W. Simpson shows that he applied on 6 April 1892 for a pension and eventually received it.  Likewise, after his death, his widow Mary Simpson also applied and collected.


The Military Index Card (above from Fold3) is one of 16 cards and documents available for John W. Simpson.  It gives the basic information about him including his height of 5 foot, 7 inches; his black eyes, hair and complexion, and his age of 30.  The remainder of the cards and documents can be seen at Fold3 or at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Finally, there are at least a dozen articles that appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot that describe the various activities of John W. Simpson, including one that was previously used here on this blog:

Republican Aspirants.  A List From Which Candidates Will Be Chosen.

The following is the list made up at the republican naming meeting on Saturday night from which the candidates of that party will be selected on Saturday evening:….

Eighth Ward, First Precinct – Delegates, Spencer P. Irvin, C. W. Harley, T. H. Thompson, George W. Krause, Samuel Bennett; select council, George W. Stoner; common council, P. H. Ryan, C. A. Miller, John A. Krause, Charles Weaver, A. H. Frankem, Joseph B. Popel, Jacob Camp, Alfred Garner; school director, Amos W. Young, William H. Day, James Templar; assessor, John W. Simpson, George Douglass; constable, C. W. Harley, William R. Dorsey, James Hunter; judge of election, J. P. Crabbe; inspector, James H. Howard, L. V. Early, Thomas Thompson. [From Harrisburg Patriot.  25 January 1881].

Any additional information about John W. Simpson would be appreciated.


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

February is Black History Month.  This profile is another in a series of posts to honor African Americans who lived through or were affected by the Civil War.



Dr. Michael Price – Upper End Doctor, Teacher & Justice Fought for South

Posted By on February 16, 2015


An interesting obituary was located in the pages of the Harrisburg Patriot of 10 October 1895.  Previous to finding this, it was not known that the upper townships of Dauphin County had been served by a justice, a teacher, and medical doctor who was a brigade surgeon in a Confederate cavalry regiment.  Little is known beyond what is stated in the obituary, so it is presented here in the event that a reader of this blog can provide some missing details.  Add comments to this blog post or send by e-mail.


A Once Brilliant Lawyer Dies at Steelton After an Interesting Career

Dr. Michael Price, a well known resident of Steelton, was stricken with paralysis while on his way to work at the steel works yesterday morning.  He died at noon.

Dr. Price’s real name was Gallagher and he came to Steelton to live about seven years ago after a very chequered career.  He was born a member of a very respectable family in Frederick County, Maryland.  He was admitted to the bar and for several years was noted as one of the most brilliant young attorneys in that section of the state.  He had also received an excellent medical education and at the outbreak of the Civil War he cast his fortunes with the South and rose to be a brigade surgeon.  He was with the portion of General Stuart’s Confederate cavalry which came as far as the opposite side of the Susquehanna from this city in the memorable raid into Pennsylvania in June 1863, and it is said led the cavalry toward this city.  After the war he moved to this county and practiced medicine in the Upper End and about Duncannon.  He taught school and also held an appointment as a justice in the Upper Townships of Dauphin.  From thence he came to Steelton and after practicing some years, entered the employ of the Pennsylvania Steel Works as a weighman.  He was a most entertaining conversationalist and was widely known in Steelton.

A Findagrave Memorial has been created for him which recognizes the Baldwin Cemetery, Steelton, as his burial place.  At the time of this writing, there was no grave marker photo, and the only new information about him was a middle initial of “M” and that he was 65 years old at death.

A similar obituary to the one above, but condensed, can be found in the Reading Eagle of the same date.


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