Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Obituary of William DeHaven of Millersburg

Posted By on August 21, 2015


William H. DeHaven, born 21 June 1846, served in the 208th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company E, as a Private, during the Civil War.  After the war he was one of the founding members of the G.A.R. Kilpatrick Post at Millersburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

He lived in Millersburg most of his life, working as a laborer in a planing mill and a sash factory.

William H. DeHaven died on 28 August 1919 and his obituary appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph on 29 August 1919:



Millersburg, Pennsylvania, 29 August 1919 –– William H. DeHaven, a veteran of the Civil War and one of the few remaining comrades of Kilpatrick Post, No. 212, G.A.R., of this place, died rather suddenly, after ailing for several months, on Thursday.  He was 73 years old and is survived by an adopted daughter, Miss Maggie DeHaven.  The funeral will take place from his late home in West Moore Street, Monday at 3 p.m., in charge of his pastor, the Rev. Mr. Musselman, of the Lutheran Church.  Burial will be in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Additional information is sought about this veteran.  Comments can be added to this post or sent via e-mail.


The news clipping is from Chronicling America of the Library of Congress.


William W. Davidson Dies on Visit to Detroit

Posted By on August 19, 2015


William W. Davidson was born in South Manheim Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, the son of John H. Davidson and Elizabeth [Schwenk] Davidson, on 18 December 1842.  In the 1860 Census he was single, living in Millersburg, and working as a tanner.

In September 1862, William responded to the emergency presented to Pennsylvania by joining the 4th Pennsylvania Infantry (Militia), Company B, as a Corporal.  This approximate ten day service was not reported to the Pension Bureau when he later applied for benefits on 23 June 1898.  The only service he claimed at that time was the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, as a Private, from 16 September 1864 at Harrisburg, to his honorable discharge at Arlington Heights, Virginia, 30 May 1865.

Following his release from the military, he married Susan Elizabeth Zimmerman at Fisherville Lutheran Church, Jackson Township, Dauphin County, on 9 November 1865.  The couple had three children:  Frank E. Davidson, born 21 December 1866; Clara May Davidson, born 6 March 1868; and John H. Davidson, born 5 July 1870.

By 1870, the family was living in Harrisburg, where William was employed at a saw mill, and by 1880, he joined the railroad, where he worked until retirement.  In 1890, he did not report any Civil War-related disabilities.

His death was reported in the Harrisburg Evening News on 24 December 1923:


While on a visit with his wife in Detroit, William W. Davidson, 81 years old, 1211 North Third Street, died yesterday afternoon.  He was a retired Pennsylvania Railroad employee and a Civil War veteran.

Mr. Davidson was born in Schuylkill Haven, but moved to this city when he was a boy. At the time of his retirement by the Pennsylvania Railroad, six years ago, he was yardmaster at the Maclay Street Yards.

He served with the Federal Army during the Civil War, having enlisted in a Pennsylvania volunteer regiment.  He was wounded on several occasions.  Following the war he was active in organizing the Grand Army of the Republic in this State, and for a number of years he was a staff officer of the State Department of the G.A.R.  He was also a member of the Knights of Malta and the Messiah Lutheran Church.

He is survived by his wife, a sister, Mrs. Emma E. Donnelly, of Lemoyne, and one daughter, Mrs. Charles Stauffer of Dauphin.  The body was sent to this city from Detroit today.

Funeral arrangements were described in the Harrisburg Evening News of 26 December 1923:


Funeral services for William W. Davidson, 81 year old Civil War veteran, of 1211 North Third Street, who died Sunday in Detroit, were held this afternoon at 1 o’clock, from Messiah Lutheran Church.  Burial was in the Fisherville Cemetery, the Rev. Carl Rasmussen officiating, assisted by the Rev. Charles Bauslin.

Davidson was a retired employee of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and was at Detroit with his wife, visiting relatives over the Christmas holidays.  He had only been in the city eight hours before he died.

The body was brought here Christmas morning.  Davidson is survived by his widow, a sister, Mrs. Emma N. Donnelly, of Lemoyne, and daughter, Mrs. Charles Shaffer, of Dauphin.  Mrs. Davidson was accompanied east by a daughter and a son, Mrs. Grant Cannon and Leigh H. Smith, both of Detroit.


Additional information about William W. Davidson can be found at his Findagrave Memorial.

Four pages from the pension application file are also presented below for those wishing to do further research.  Click on thumbnails to enlarge the documents:

DavidsonWilliam-004“Declaration for Pension” including nature and details of military service.




DavidsonWilliam-005Update of personal information required by Pension Bureau, 1915.




DavidsonWilliam-006Personal information required in 1898 for original application.




DavidsonWilliam-007Certification of birth and baptism of William W. Davidson.





Bullets from the Battlefield

Posted By on August 17, 2015

Here is another strange case of Civil War battlefield artifacts found in an unusual, but somewhat believable place.  Hopefully, a reader of this blog can enlighten the rest of as to where these bullets are presently located.



Whizzed Over the Wilderness and Lodged in Trees

Philadelphia, 25 July 1899 — Assistant United States Customs Inspector James A. Shields yesterday made an interesting discovery while inspecting a cargo of lumber being unloaded at Delaware River, Pier 52, North.

In running over some of the boards his attention was attracted to a series of old discolorations.  Making a closer investigation Inspector Shields discovered that the discolorations were caused by leaden bullets imbedded in the boards, evidently many years ago, when the material of which the boards was composed formed a part of young and growing pine trees.

Inquiry on the Inspector’s part developed the fact that the lumber came from a saw mill located on the site of the famous Battle of the Wilderness, where thirty odd years ago one of the fiercest contests of the War of the Rebellion was waged.  With this interesting bit of knowledge in his possession Inspector Shields went on a hunt for all the leaden missiles he could find in the planks he was inspecting.

His search was rewarded with a big handful of bullets, included in which were several of the dreaded minnie balls.  Some of the leaden pellets had been sawed in two by the teeth of the Southern saws.

As Mr. Shield is a veteran of the Civil War, having served with the United States Marine Corps throughout the entire Rebellion, he naturally values his new-found treasures highly.


The news clipping (above) from the Harrisburg Patriot, 25 July 1899, was found in an on-line search of the newspaper resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Two Civil War-Era Centenarians Who Died in 1923

Posted By on August 14, 2015

In going through some obituaries that appeared in the Harrisburg Evening News in 1923, two centenarians were discovered.  One was an African American woman, supposedly born in slavery who escaped via the Underground Railroad, who has to be considered as one of the longest living persons ever; the other was said to be at the time of his death, the oldest Civil War veteran in the United States.


From the Harrisburg Evening News of 12 February 1923:


Richmond, Vermont, 12 February 1923 — Mrs. Augusta Maxwell, formerly of Lancaster County [Pennsylvania}, and a slave in the South before the Civil War, died here at the age of 117.

She was one of the few survivors of Negroes who made their way to Canada by the “Underground Railroad,” escaping slavery before emancipation.

For more information on Susanna Augusta [Stokes] Maxwell, see the Dictionary of Canadian Biography which deals with some of the conflicting information about her; see also The Underground Railroad – An Encyclopedia of People, Places and Operations, by Mary Ellen Snodgrass.

The path of escape that she made in 1851 from Lancaster County to New York State and eventually to Toronto, may have taken her through part of the Lykens Valley, as that was a known route on the Underground Railroad in the middle part of Pennsylvania.  See also prior posts on this blog:  Underground Railroad.


From the Harrisburg Evening News, 13 April 1923:


Corry, 13 April 1923– John Colter, 101 years old, the oldest Civil War veteran in the land, died at the home of his grandson, Elbert Alford.  He was born 10 January 1822 in Woodstock Township, Crawford County [Pennsylvania], and except for war service, lived there all his life.

Mr. Colter lived under twenty-one presidential administration, beginning with James Monroe.

He recalled as a lad of 6 years when John Quincy Adams broke ground for the building of the first steam railroad in the United States. He was 22 when Professor Morse sent his memorable message from Baltimore to Washington.  When 39 years old he enlisted with the 169th Pennsylvania Volunteers [169th Pennsylvania Infantry] and served throughout the Civil War with honor.  He loved to recall boyhood incidents, when wild game was no unusual sight in Crawford County.  He was greatly beloved by his numerous friends, who almost without exception called him Uncle John.  He is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Wilcox of Miller Station; two grandsons; eight great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.  He was a lifelong member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

According to information found in Bates, John C. Coulter, was mustered into service on 16 October 1862 at Harrisburg as a Private.  However, Bates notes that at the muster-out of Company K, he was “absent sick.”  However, the full dates of his service are noted on his Pension Index Card from Fold3, shown below:

CoulterJohn-PensionINdex-001His discharge date is given as 26 July 1863, which meant that he served a full nine month term.  No other service is stated on the card – indicating that he did not serve “throughout the war” as mentioned in his obituary, but only for a nine month term as a draftee.

An incomplete Findagrave Memorial for John Coulter exists – buried at Gravel Run Cemetery, Woodcock, Crawford County.


News stories are from Newspapers.com.

Some Brief Obituaries of Lykens Valley Area Civil War Veterans

Posted By on August 12, 2015

The following are some brief obituaries of three Lykens Valley area Civil War veterans as they appeared in local newspapers:


From Harrisburg Telegraph, 20 December 1899:



Funeral services were held this afternoon over the body of Joseph Ritzman, who died at his home in Wiconisco, Wednesday morning, after eight years of suffering from miner’s asthma.  He was 63 years of age, a war veteran, and is survived by seven children.  Rev. A. H. Souillard of the U. B. Church, conducted the services and the G.A.R. Post attended in a body.  Interment was made in Wiconisco Cemetery.

From the Lykens Register, 21 December 1899:


Joseph Ritzman, suffered from miners asthma and recently dropsy.  He was born 18 August 1836 near Gratz.  His father died when he was young and he started to earn his own living early in life by learning the trade of shoemaker at Berrysburg.

On 30 December 1860, he married Elizabeth Klinger, then of Uniontown [Pillow].  They moved to Elizabethville, then Fisherville.  In September 1864, he enlisted in Company A, 210th Pennsylvania Volunteers [210th Pennsylvania Infantry] and his wife returned to her parents till the close of the war.  On 30 May 1865, he was discharged and with his wife, settled in Wiconisco.  Eight years ago his wife died and he made his home with his children.  Seven children survive:  Mrs. Thomas Bateman [Rebecca Ritzman]; Mrs. George G. Schreffler [Agnes Ritzman]; William Ritzman; Grant Ritzman; George Ritzman; Mrs. Charles Schadel [Nora Ritzman]; and Mabel Ritzman. Two brothers:  Balzer Ritzman of Shamokin; Jacob Ritzman of Millersburg.  One sister:  Mrs. John Ficel [Sallie Ritzman] of the same place.  He was buried in Wiconisco Cemetery.


From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 4 August 1899:



On Monday evening Harrison Riegle died of dropsy complications.  He was a veteran of the Civil War and when able always participated in the exercises of the Grand Army of the Republic.  He was an active P.G. Member of Gratztown Lodge, No. 663, I.O.O.F., who will turn out in a body in his honor.  The funeral will be held on Thursday forenoon.  Interment at Gratz in the Lutheran and Reformed Cemetery, Rev. O. E. Pflueger officiating.

From the Lykens Register, 3 August 1899:


Harrison Riegle, a prosperous farmer living near Loyalton, died Monday of miner’s asthma.  He was buried in Gratz Lutheran and Reformed Cemetery.  Solomon Rettinger and Mr. Riegle wedded sisters and died three hours apart.

From the “Old History” column of the Lykens Standard, 21 December 1917, reporting on a death that occurred in 1899:


Harrison Riegle died age 48 of pneumonia.  He was of Specktown, and served in Company G, 103rd Regiment [103rd Pennsylvania Infantry], Civil War.


From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 22 October 1897:



Gratz, Pennsylvania, 21 October 1897 — Henry Kauderman, who has been confined to his bed for the last twenty weeks, died on Friday morning and was buried on Sunday afternoon.  Mr. Kauderman was highly respected by all who knew him and left a host of friends to mourn his departure.  He had one of the largest funerals for years in this place, not only the pews, but the aisles, the stairs and windows were filled.  Rev. Pflueger preached a very appropriate and touching funeral sermon.

Henry Kauderman‘s Civil War service was not mentioned in his obituary.  He served in the 36th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1863), Company C, as a Corporal, from 4 July 1863 through 11 August 1863.  He was born in 1829 and was 68 years old at his death.


Obituaries are from various sources including the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Newspapers.com, and family provided clippings.