Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

George P. Owen of Tremont – Dies in New Mexico – A Connection to the Boer War

Posted By on May 3, 2017

George Pitt Owen died on 25 July 1901 and is buried in the United Methodist Church Cemetery in Tremont, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  He was a Civil War veteran who reported his service in 1890 to the census while living in Tremont.  However, because he served in the 17th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1862), Company H, as a Private, from 17 September 1862 through the end of the emergency when he was discharged on 28 September 1862, he was not eligible for a pension.  And, because the militia records are not as detailed as the regular Pennsylvania infantry units, it is difficult to find out much about his Civil War experience.

Using the birth/death/spouse information in his Findagrave Memorial, a surprising discovery was made when searching for him in the census records for 1900. At that time [1900] he was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was operating a hotel there. That information led to his obituary, which appeared in the Albuquerque Citizen, 26 July 1901:


George P. Owen Expired Last Night in Wagon Mound, New Mexico

It is with deep regret that The Citizen is again called to chronicle the death of one of Albuquerque’s old time citizens, and this time George Pitt Owen, proprietor of the Grand Central Hotel, responded to the final summons. For some time Mr. Owen has been suffering with kidney trouble and in the early part of the present month he decided to visit his daughter, Mrs. George D. Parrish in Wagon Mound, where he hoped a recreation from business would restore him to health, but the disease had so thoroughly fastened itself upon his constitution that it would not yield to medical treatment, and a as a consequence the aged gentleman’s demise occurred last night at 10 o’clock.  On Thursday morning , his daughter in law, Mrs. Harry Owen, left for his bedside, and upon her arrival there found him rapidly sinking.  She telegraphed her husband of his father’s condition, who left on No. 8, last evening for Wagon Mound, but his father’s eyes had been closed in death several hours prior to his arrival.

The body was removed to East Las Vegas today where it was embalmed and tomorrow the remains will be shipped to Tremont, Pennsylvania, where it will be laid to rest by the side of two children who preceded their father to the grave several years ago.  Harry P. Owen and his wife will accompany the body.

George Pitt Owen was born in England 73 years ago, and with his parents, came to the United States in the 20s.  On 28 October 1853 he married Miss Henrieta Breckbill, in Stratton, Pennsylvania, and by this union six children were born, four of whom are living.  They are Prof. John Pitt Owen; Harry Pitt Owen, clerk of the second judicial district of this city; Mrs. George D. Parrish of Wagon Mound, New Mexico, and Miss Martha Owen, who is now residing with her mother in Stratton, Pennsylvania.  Mr. Owen has been a resident of Albuquerque for a dozen years or more.  For a long time he conducted the old San Felipe Hotel, but during the past four years he was proprietor of the Grand Central.  He was a thirty-second degree Mason, and was also a member of the Episcopal Church.  The deceased was prominently known in New Mexico, and many friends are left to mourn.

An interesting connection to the Boer War in South Africa was located in the Albuquerque Weekly Citizen of 24 March 1900:


Lieut. Albert H. Leith Writes a Letter to George P. Owen


George P. Owen, proprietor of the Grand Central Hotel, has received a letter from Lieuenant Albert H. Leith, who is fighting for Queen Victoria in South Africa.  This lieutenant is well-known in this territory, especially here and in Grant County, where he was interested in mining and in the stock raising business.  He was for a short time, interested in the Golden District, but on disposing of his property there, he came to Albuquerque, purchased a riding pony, and enjoyed a real leisurely life, vibrating between this city, the Jemes and Sulphur hot springs quite frequently. The lieutenant left the Grand Central Hotel this month one year ago, and when he reached London, he found that during his absence in American his mother had died, leaving him a large legacy, and requested him to remain at home.  However, he was fired with the war spirit and he enlisted to do service in South Africa.

Mr. Owen is in receipt of the following letter dated 10 February [1900], since which time Ladysmith has been relieved.

Chievely Camp, Natal, 10 February 1900 —

Dear Friend Owen:

I have often intended to write you a line to let you know how the world wags with me for here I am leading a troop in the South African Light Horse and fighting the Boers in South Africa.  We are in the Natal Field Force, the relief of Ladysmith our present object, but even if we have found the Boers a hard nut to crack, with their natural mountain strongholds and assisted by French, German and Russian officers, and artillery men, and splendidly armed, we are determined to settle the matter definitely by arms this time, whatever it may cost us.

How little I thought a year ago, when in New Mexico, chatting with you in the evenings, that now I should be writing from Africa, sitting in my tent the first quiet day for some days of  ‘out pickets’ and ‘reconnaissance’ duty.

At the Battle of Colenso, though our squads suffered severely, I am glad to say and my horse came through all right without a scratch but it wasn’t for want of Mauser bullets spitting thick around one.

I hope you have been well and flourishing since last I heard from you.  How is Ben Moore?  Tell him I don’t like my present saddle as much as my good old Californian, but that my ‘quirt’ comes in handy sometimes.  As for instance, at the Battle of Colenso, we had to lead some horses down to some of our men whose horses had been shot, and it is astonishing how my quirt made the lead horses lead up.  Very little time for writing, so goodbye for the present.  If you have an opportunity a letter will find me addressed Lieutenant A. H. Leith, South Africa Light Brigade, via Cape Town, Africa.

Remember me to all friends, J. B. Block and his wife, and tell Moore to do the same for me to all friends at the Jemes Springs.  If you think of it and see Mr. Keen, cashier of the First National Bank, please remember me most kindly to him and time him where I am.

Yours most sincerely,


An additional item for research on George P. Owen:

During 1871, George P. Owen represented Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, mine owners/operators in negotiations with the miners.   Several articles appeared in local newspapers of the time.

More information is sought on this Civil War veteran who lived a good part of his life in the Tremont area.  Please add comments to this blog post.


News articles are from Newspapers.com.



Michael O’Leary – Coal Miner of Wiconisco

Posted By on May 1, 2017

Michael O’Leary, whose name appears on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument as a Civil War veteran from the Lykens-Wiconisco area who was not a member of the Heilner Post, was identified as to his regiment and company by a record found on Ancestry.com in the series, Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Soldiers.

The index card shown above indicates that Michael O’Leary died on 8 September 1870 and that he served in the 5th Pennsylvania Reserves [34th Pennsylvania Infantry], Company C, as a Private.  While there are several persons of that name who served in the war, this one is buried in a cemetery in Lykens and a government-issued gave marker was provided as the result of a contract dated 21 January 1883.

Michael O’Leary would not have been identified as a Lykens area soldier from simply reviewing the Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card, shown below from the Pennsylvania Archives as there is no evidence on the card of an association with the Lykens area.

On 15 May 1861, Michael O’Leary enrolled at Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, in the 5th Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry [a.k.a. 34th Pennsylvania Infantry].  At the time of his enrollment, he claimed that he was 23 years old, was working as a miner, and lived in Clearfield County.  He stood nearly 6 feet tall, had dark hair, a dark complexion, and grey eyes.  He was mustered out on 11 June 1864.

During his service time, his regiment was at Gettysburg.  However, Michael’s name does not appear on the tablet for Company C at the Pennsylvania Memorial.

No Pension Index Card has been located for him.

In 1850, Michael O’Leary was in the household of his parents in Wiconisco Township, Andrew O’Leary, a miner, born about 1812 in Ireland, and Mary Ann [O’Donnell] O’Leary, born about 1818, possibly in New York.  There were several other children in the household.

Michael O’Leary has not been located in the 1860 census.

In 1870, Michael O’Leary was living in Wiconisco Township in the household of Daniel Grow, a laborer in the mines.  Michael indicated in this census that he had been born in Ireland – which conflicts with information in the 1850 census where it was stated that he was born in Pennsylvania.  At this time, Michael O’Leary was working as a coal miner.  As per the headstone record, he died later in the year, 8 September 1870.

As of this writing, no photo has been seen of his grave marker, no one has created a Findagrave Memorial for him, and his cause of death is unknown.

Additional information is sought about this Civil War veteran. Why didn’t he serve at Gettysburg?  Was he married?  In which cemetery section in Lykens is he buried?  How did he die?  Readers who can answer any or all of these questions are urged to add comments to this blog post.

Obituary of James Neal of Rausch Creek – Served as James W. O’Neal

Posted By on April 28, 2017

The obituary of James Neal appeared in a local newspaper at the time of his death, which occurred at Rauch Creek, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, 4 November 1885:


On Wednesday afternoon James Neal of Lower Rausch Creek, one of the most respected citizens of the West End, died very suddenly after an illness of several years.  Mr. Neal was in his 46th year at the time of his death, and the father of eight children, the youngest of whom is not two years old.  He served honorably during a portion of the late war, and was at one time a leading member of Williams Post – G.A.R., of this place.  For many years he was engaged about the mines and quit that work on account of failing health.  Yesterday morning Dr. Dundor, assisted by Dr. Schropp, held a post-mortem examination of the body, which revealed an enlargement of the heart to double its natural size, and a slight degeneration of the same organ.  The lungs had hardly a spot that was of natural color, having become black from coal dust.  The gall-bladder contained more than a dozen gall-stones, about the size of a large pea, and the liver was also seriously affected.

The funeral will occur on Sunday, leaving the house at one o’clock and reaching the upper end of town about two o’clock.  Donaldson Lodge I.O.O.F., of which the deceased was a member, will turn out.  All honorably discharged soldiers and sailors are requested to meet at Odd Fellows Hall at one o’clock, and join the members of Williams Post, who will attend the funeral in a body.  Interment in the Methodist-Episcopal Cemetery.

The Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card, at the top of this post, is from the Pennsylvania Archives.  Through other documents, it can be shown that the James W. O’Neal mentioned on the card is the same person as the James Neal who died at Rausch Creek in 1885.

On 11 August 1862, James W. O’Neal was mustered into service in the 135th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, at Lancaster County, as a Private.  He served until 24 May 1863, when he was honorably discharged.  At the time of his enrollment, he was 22 years old, was working as a farmer, and resided in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

At the end of the war, James Neal married Roseanna Fessler, and before 1880, the family had moved to the area around Tremont, Schuylkill County, where James worked in the mines.

In the 1890 Census, Roseann was a widow living in Tremont, and reported the Civil War service of James to the census.

And on July 23 1890, Roseann applied for a widow’s pension, which she received and collected until her death which occurred in Tremont on 11 September 1911.

A Findagrave Memorial has been created for James W. Neal, but there is no mention there of his Civil War service.

Any additional information on this Civil War veteran or his family would be very welcome.



George Noll of Tremont – Dies as Santa Claus

Posted By on April 26, 2017

An interesting news story appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 27 December 1901:


With Happy Smile and World of Cheer George Noll Passed Away

Special to the Inquirer

POTTSVILLE, Pennsylvania, 26 December 1901 — George Noll, of this place, while playing Santa Claus, dropped dead with a benevolent smile and words of Christmas greeting upon his lips.  He had just distributed gifts among his family and sat down to have a chat when he fell from his chair dead.

Mr. Noll was in the fifty-seventh year of his age, a veteran of the Civil War, and a member of Gowen Post No. 23, G.A.R.  Five children survive.

The Harrisburg Daily Independent of the same date added the following:

[He] dropped dead as a Christmas greeting left his lips….  [He] sat down to have a chat, when he fell from his chair a corpse.

And The Times of Philadelphia noted that his “Santa Claus play was fatal.”

In researching this Civil War veteran, it was discovered that in 1890 he lived in Tremont, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, where he reported that he had served in the 12th Indiana Infantry, Company G, as a Private from 21 October 1861 until his discharge on 19 May 1862.

The Pension Index Card from Ancestry.com gives the widow’s name as Susannah Noll and the date of her application for a pension as 2 January 1902 – very soon after the death of George.  George Noll had previously applied for pension benefits on 2 April 1892, which he was awarded and collected until his death.

In 1880, the family lived in Bethel, Berks County, where George indicated he was a farmer.  And in 1900, the family lived in Pottsville, where George was working as a huckster.

The Findagrave Memorial gives some additional information.  George Noll is buried at Klopp’s Cemetery, Hamlin, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.  His stone notes his service in the 12th Indiana Infantry as well as his death on Christmas Day, 1901.  Susannah Noll, the widow, was the former Susannah Houtz.  She was born on 10 April 1846 and died on 18 May 1931, and is buried at the same cemetery.

Additional information is sought about George Noll.  Comments can be added to this blog post.




Moses Neyer – Another Missing Millersburg Civil War Veteran

Posted By on April 24, 2017

Moses Neyer is missing, i.e., his name in missing from the tablet on the Millersburg Soldier Monument which recognizes Civil War soldiers from that community and the surrounding area of Upper Paxton Township who honorably served in the war.   The photograph at the top of this post (from Findagrave) of his stone at the Oak Hill Cemetery, Millersburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, has a G.A.R.-star-flag holder at his grave site.  Moses Neyer was previously mentioned on this blog as being on the list of Oak Hill Cemetery Civil War veterans.

The portion of the tablet on the Millersburg Soldier Monument where the name Moses Neyer should appear is shown above.

This post will show that the Moses Neyer who is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery was an honorably discharged Civil War soldier and that he had a definite relationship with Millersburg and Upper Paxton Township later in his life, and should have been included.

According to cemetery information, Moses Neyer was born on 17 July 1841.  His death certificate notes the place of birth as Pennsylvania.  Also, a Virginia Soldier Home record from 1905, gives his birthplace as Pennsylvania, as do census returns from 1850 through 1880, and 1900.

The Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card from the Pennsylvania Archives (shown above) indicates that Moses Neyer enrolled in the 129th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company E, at Tamaqua, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, on 7 August 1862.  The only personal information given about him on the card was his age – 20 years old.   Moses was mustered into service as a Private on 15 August 1862 and served honorably until his discharge, which occurred at the conclusion of his term on 18 May 1863.

Note:  There is a second person named Moses Neyer who also served in the Civil War.  He was in the 132nd Pennsylvania Infantry, but his birth and death years were 1835 and 1912, and he is buried in Carbon County, Pennsylvania.  It is clear from examining the records of this second Moses Neyer that he had no relationship with Millersburg.

The above Pension Index Cards (top from Ancestry.com, bottom from Fold3), provide a picture of the pension applications for Moses Neyer.  On 24 May 1890, he applied for an invalid pension, which he collected and received until his death, which occurred on 7 August 1908 according to theFold3 card.  Following his death, on 2 September 1908, the widow, Amanda Neyer, applied for benefits, which she received until her death.  Note:  The death date for Moses is in slight conflict with that found on his Pennsylvania Death Certificate, which is given there as 16 August 1908.

Although the widow received pension benefits, she did so for only a short time.  The record indicates that that she died on 16 October 1908.  She is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, Millersburg.

Amanda Neyer was, prior to her marriage, Amanda Reichert, also found in the records as Amanda Richard and Amanda Rickert.

In the 1890 Veterans’ Census, Moses Neyer was living in Tower City, Schuylkill County, and reported his service in the 129th Pennsylvania Infantry.

In 1900, the family was living in Upper Paxton Township, and Moses reported that he was a farmer.

On 21 November 1905, Moses Neyer was admitted to the Soldiers’ Home in Hampton, Virginia.  He gave his service as the 129th Pennsylvania Infantry, and also indicated that he had contracted heart disease in 1862 while in the service.  At the time of his admission, he gave his age as 64, noted that his residence was Millersburg subsequent to his discharge from the home, was married (wife’s name Amanda Neyer of Tower City), and his occupation was farmer.  His other personal information included a height of only 5 feet, a light complexion, brown eyes, and grey hair.  His religion was Protestant and he could not read or write.  The above home record was obtained from Ancestry.com.  The date of death on the home record was recorded as 16 August 1908 and the place of death was Dauphin, Pennsylvania (consistent with his death certificate).


Three brief notices pertaining to Moses Neyer were found in the Harrisburg newspapers:

Moses Neyer has gone to the National Soldiers’ Home, in Virginia, for the winter.  [From: “Millersburg Notes,” Harrisburg Telegraph, 17 November 1906].


The body of Moses Neyer, who died at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. O. W. Deibler, at Dauphin, Saturday, was brought to this place today for burial in Oak Hill Cemetery.  [From:  “Millersburg,” Harrisburg Telegraph, 20 August 1908].


The following wills and letters of administration were probated and granted today by Register of Wills J. J. Hargest:  Will of Moses Neyer, late of Millersburg, letters to John Neyer…. [From”  “Wills Probated,” Harrisburg Daily Independent, 8 September 1908].

It is very clear that this Moses Neyer had a definite connection to Millersburg and Upper Paxton Township and should have been included on the Millersburg Soldier Monument.  It is not known at this time why he, and so many others were ignored by those who erected this monument.