Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Carsonville Veteran Helps Rescue Traveler, 1905

Posted By on September 25, 2017


From the pages of the Elizabethville Echo of 9 February 1905, comes the following story of a rescue from the snow of a numb traveler in the area of Carsonville, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  One of those included in the rescue was William Snyder, a Civil War veteran of Carsonville, who opened his home to the poor man.

A Heroic Deed (Special to THE ECHO)

FISHERVILLE, 7 February 1905.  On Tuesday Eve. of last week news came to the Reformed parsonage that an aged man was seeking nights repose in a straw stack, two miles from the parsonage.  The young pastor, G. W. Spotts, with atheletic [sic] build and daring skill combined, started in company with his neighbor, Mr. Frank Killinger to rescue the man.  The weather was intensely cold, the snow deep and walking very difficult.  After great exertion, they reached the place and found the man in a numb condition.  He refused to get up at first, but there was no time given to argument, he suddenly fell in clutches that brought to the ground many a foot ball star of former days.  When he saw that he was embraced with human arms as strong as iron bands he yielded at once.  After rubbing his legs and moving his arms, he was enabled to walk again.  They roused out of bed a kind and most generous farmer, Mr. William Snyder, who sheltered him overnight.

What a wilful sacrifice that was to save a wandering Jew.  If anything proves a man’s sincerity, such a feat surely does.  What a future to save souls that young preacher must have before him.


During the Civil War, William Snyder served in the 127th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company G, as a Private, from 9 August 1862 through an honorable discharge on 29 May 1863.

Although the above card from the Pennsylvania Archives states that his residence was Elizabethtown, he actually was from Elizabethville and Washington Township.  He was about 28 years old at the time of enlistment and gave his occupation as shoemaker.

Following the war, he settled in the Carsonville area and is found in the 1890 Veterans’ Census for Carsonville, Wayne Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

The Pension Index Card from Ancestry.com notes that William Snyder applied for an invalid pension on 11 August 1890, and his widow Rebecca Snyder, applied on 9 January 1906, an indication that William died prior to that date.

In searching the Elizabethville Echo, a brief notice was found that residents of Dietrich, Dauphin County, attended the funeral of a William Snyder in December 1905 at Carsonville. No mention was made in the article that William Snyder was a Civil War veteran.

From other sources, namely Pennsylvania Death Certificates from 1906 and afterward, a son Aaron Nathaniel Snyder, who died in 1929, Rebecca, the widow, was the former Rebecca Bretz.

From the date of the rescue of the traveler, William Snyder lived less than a year.

He is buried at the St. James Cemetery, Carsonville, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.


News clippings from Newspapers.com.


Civil War Walking Tour of Gratz Revisited

Posted By on September 21, 2017

Here are direct links to a series of posts on this blog which describe buildings and sites in Gratz, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, that have a relationship to the Civil War era:

Gratz During the Civil War

Gratz During the Civil War – Solomon Wolf House

Gratz During the Civil War – Zacharias Laudenslager House

Gratz During the Civil War – Hartman & Keiter Property

Gratz During the Civil War – Cemeteries (Part 1)

Gratz During the Civil War – Cemeteries (Part 2)

Gratz During the Civil War – Cemeteries (Part 3)

Gratz During the Civil War – Cemeteries (Part 4)

Gratz During the Civil War – Zacharias Laudenslager Property

Gratz During the Civil War – Tobias Wiest House

Gratz During the Civil War – I.O.O.F. Building

Gratz During the Civil War – Phillips House

Gratz During the Civil War – Ossman House

Gratz During the Civil War – Harner House

Gratz During the Civil War – Ritzman House

Gratz During the Civil War – Keiter-Snyder Property

Gratz During the Civil War – Crabb House

Gratz During the Civil War – William H. Yohe, Carpenter

Gratz During the Civil War – Isaiah Schminky, Physician

Gratz During the Civil War – James Novinger House

Gratz During the Civil War – Daniel Good House

Gratz During the Civil War – Good Tannery

Gratz During the Civil War – Franklin Fidler House

Gratz During the Civil War – Samuel’s Church

Gratz During the Civil War – Fort Jackson

Gratz During the Civil War – Jonas Faust, Coach Maker

Gratz During the Civil War – Leopold Loeb House

Gratz During the Civil War – Charles Gerhard Property

Gratz During the Civil War – William Scheib House

Gratz During the Civil War – George Ossman, Boot and Shoe Maker

Gratz During the Civil War – Rudolph Dornheim Properties

Gratz During the Civil War – Henry M. Witmer, Saddle & Harness Maker

Gratz During the Civil War – Henry Kauderman, Boot and Shoe Maker

Gratz During the Civil War – John Hummel, Tinsmith

Gratz During the Civil War – Leonard Reedy House

Gratz During the Civil War – Kissinger House

Gratz During the Civil War – Rebecca Alspach Buffington House

Gratz During the Civil War – Elias Zerfing, Carpenter

Gratz During the Civil War – Rudolph H. Dornheim, Cabinetmaker

Gratz During the Civil War – George Moyer House

Gratz During the Civil War – Dr. Andrew Maurer House

Gratz During the Civil War – Theodore Gratz House

Gratz During the Civil War – Jeremiah Crabb, Blacksmith

Gratz During the Civil War – Post Office

Gratz During the Civil War – First Public School



Obituary of John C. Steckley of Dauphin Borough

Posted By on September 18, 2017

John Christian Steckley, who was born 17 November 1845, was briefly profiled here on 11 June 2013:

John Christian Steckley (1845-1912) ——– 107th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company I, Private (Mustered In 18 February 1862, Harrisburg – Mustered Out 8 March 1865).  Enrolled: Hummelstown, Dauphin County.  Captured as prisoner (POW) at Weldon Railroad and held prisoner from 19 August 1864 – 8 March 1865.  Prisoner at Libby Prison, Belle Isle, and Salisbury, North Carolina.  Married:  JoAnn Mary Milliken.   Buried:  Dauphin Cemetery, Dauphin Borough, Dauphin County.  Occupation: Boatman.  Residence:  Dauphin County.   AKA:  John C. Steckley.

John C. Steckley died in Altoona, Blair County, Pennsylvania, on 17 December 1912, and his obituary appeared in the Altoona Tribune on 12 December 1912:

Death of John C. Steckley.

The remains of the late Civil War veteran, John C. Steckley, who died of pneumonia in the Altoona Hospital at 10:30 Tuesday night will be taken to Harrisburg this forenoon on train No. 8, leaving Altoona at 11:35.  At 1:30 p.,. on Saturday funeral service will be held in the home of a son, A. M. Steckley, of 2017 1/2 North Sixth Street, and the body of the veteran will be laid to rest in the family burial ground at Dauphin.  The remains may be viewed this morning until 10 o’clock, in the undertaking establishment of Roher and Mauk, in Juniata, and just preceding the movement of the funeral cortege to Harrisburg a brief service of prayer will be held in the undertaking parlor at 9:30.

The deceased was distinguished as a soldier, serving with valor through several years of the Civil War.  He was born in Hummelstown, 17 November 1845, and was a youth of but 17 when he enlisted as a member of Company I, One Hundred and Seventh Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry [107th Pennsylvania Infantry], and fought in the battles of Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Antietam, on the Weldon Railroad and a number of other engagements.  He was a survivor of southern prison pens, having been at different times confined in both Libby and Andersonville, and his war record was of far more than ordinary interest.  He was a member of Post 58, Grand Army of the Republic, Harrisburg.

After the war Mr. Steckley became a bridge builder and was found on many of the large steel structures throughout the country.  He was a different times in the employ of the Phoenixville Bridge Company and the Steelton Steel Company, and followed this hazardous occupation as long as he was able to work.  For several years past he had lived retired from toil and with his children spent his last days in quiet enjoyment of life.

Surviving are ten children:  James W. Steckley, A. M. Steckley, and John D. Steckley, of Harrisburg; Mrs. Samuel Thomas, of Sunbury; Mrs. John E. Reilly, of Pleasantville, New Jersey; Mrs. C. P. Byerley and Miss Lucy H. Steckley, of New York City; Mrs. Fred Connells, of Chicago; Mrs. Frederick Brown, of Sioux City, Iowa; and S. D. Steckley, of 510 Fifth Street, Juniata, with whom the deceased made his home during several months past.  Also surviving are two brothers – Richard Steckley, of Dauphin; and William Steckley, of Fairview, just across the Susquehanna from Harrisburg.

The Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card, shown below from the Pennsylvania Archives, confirms his service:



Obituary transcribed from Newspapers.com.  Portrait of John C. Steckley from a public family tree on Ancestry.com.

Obituary of Joseph R. Shuler – 192nd Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on September 15, 2017

Joseph Ritner Shuler was born on 28 July 1837 and died on 23 September 1910, in Liverpool, Perry County, Pennsyvlania.  He has a connection to Lykens, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in that he lived and worked there according to the 1880, 1890, and 1900 censuses.  Because of that connection, he is named on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument.

He was previously profiled here in the post entitled, Joseph R. Shuler – Gunsmith.

His obituary appeared in The News (Newport, Pennsylvania) on 6 October 1910:


Gunsmith Who Made the Rifle That Killed General Canby Under Flag of Truce

Joseph R. Shuler died 23 September, at the residence of his sister, Mrs. Anna E. Morris, of Liverpool, Pennsylvania.  He was the son of Hon. Joseph Shuler of Liverpool and was born in that town 73 years ago.  He was a soldier of the Civil War, having served in Company H, 192nd Pennsylvania Volunteers [192nd Pennsylvania Infantry].

He was a gunsmith and worked for his uncle, John Shuler, the maker of the famous “Shuler guns,” much used by hunters in many of the counties north of Liverpool.

While working here Mr. Shuler made a rifle which is now on exhibition in the National Museum in Washington, D.C.  The rifle has a history and was used bu Captain Jack, a Modoc Indian, to kill General Canby while holding a parley under a flag of truce.

Mr. Shuler made the gun while working in the shop of his uncle John Shuler as a journeyman.  It was made for a Mr. Spiece of Liverpool, about the fifties, who went to Clearfield County.  In about two years he wrote to Mr. Shuler telling him he had killed a great many bear and wolves with the rifle and that he was going to Missouri.  The history of the gun from that time until it was used in the bloody tragedy is a blank to your correspondent.

He worked for many years at the mines at Lykens, and also had a retail coal yard which he sold some time ago.

He was twice married.  His first wife was Miss Susan Roush of Freeburg, Pennsylvania.  That union lasted 25 years.  After the death of Mrs. Shuler he married Mrs. Kate Miller of Lykens, who died two years ago.

In declining days he was with his sister, Mrs. Morris of Liverpool.  He leaves three children, Harvey A. Shuler, Wilkes-Barre; Carrie Shuler, Kansas; Minnie Shuler, Liverpool.  His surviving brothers are Harrison Shuler of Liverpool and Z. T. Shuler of Montgomery’s Ferry.

The Harrisburg Patriot of 2 February 1898 says:  One of the most interesting relics which has been presented to the National Museum for a long time was a rifle which Capt. Jack, the notorious Modoc Indian used in his fight in the lava beds of Southern California and is thought to be the identical rifle with which Gen. Camby was murdered while holding a parley with the chief under a flag of truce.  The rifle was cached in the lava beds during the Modoc War, or just before the capture of Capt. jack.  It was brought out by Modoc Joe in the fall of 1896 and presented to Charles Pitt, the Indian interpreter at Warm Springs, Oregon.  By him it was given to M. C.  Davis, special examiner of the Pension Bureau, and sent by him here from Warm Springs.  The weapon is still in a fair state of preservation and rather of unusual form.  It has two barrels so arranged that they can resolve, one being under the other when being ready to fire, one stock with trigger and hammer doing work for two.  The clamp apparatus has been broken so that the barrels revolve now and could not be fired on this account.  The ball used to fit the rifle is of about half an ounce weight.  The barrels are heavily rifled and the weapon is capable of doing great execution.  The barrels are unusually long and the whole must weigh 16 or 18 pounds.  In the stock, now minus paint, as if gripped by the iron fingers of the coffee colored desperado, is a cavity over which is a brass lid.  In the box thus formed were kept the patches and grease.  The rifle is a little rusty, but not nearly as much as might be expected from its long exposure.  Engraved on one side of the barrel is the name of the maker, John Shuler, Liverpool, Pennsylvania.  The weapon is regarded as a weapon of great curiosity.


News clipping from Newspapers.com.

William Straw of Williamstown, 1890 – Portrait Found

Posted By on September 13, 2017

In researching William Straw who served in the 6th Pennsylvania Infantry as well as the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, it was discovered that for a short time he lived in Williamstown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, as per the 1890 Veterans’ Census of that community.  Straw was a blacksmith who was born in England about 12 October 1841, emigrated to the United States about 1849, and when the Civil War broke out, was residing in Llewellyn, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

The above portrait was supposedly taken after William’s return from the war after serving four years and four months in the military.  It was found publicly posted on two Ancestry.com family trees.  Prior to the discovery of this photograph, another photo, taken later in life, was obtained by the Civil War Research Project.  That photo was cropped from a group picture and is shown below.

In addition to the photo taken in his military uniform, supposedly taken about 1865, an undated photo has been seen of William Straw and his wife Mary Elizabeth Straw visiting the Devil’s Den in Gettysburg.

According to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card, shown above from the Pennsylvania Archives, William Straw enrolled in the 6th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company G, as a Private, at Llewellyn, and was mustered into service the same day at Harrisburg.  At the time, he was living in Llewellyn, was a laborer, and was about 19 years old.  An accurate muster out date has not been found, but occurred either sometime in July 1861, according to some muster rolls, or sometime in August 1861, according to the above card.

Also not located at this time is an exact muster in date for his service in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry.  According to the card from the Pennsylvania Archives, at the age of 18, and working as a blacksmith while residing in Llewellyn, he enrolled in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company K, as a Musician.  The card is hard to read and additional information has been handwritten on it – but he had a light complexion, light hair, and dark eyes.  Also noted is that he re-enlisted at Cincinnati, Ohio, on 1 January, probably 1864.  His height was about 5 foot 6 inches.  Another record indicates that he served as a Corporal, perhaps first entering at that rank and then becoming a Musician, or vice versa.

William Straw died in Philadelphia on 5 April 1906.

A number of other items are available for William Straw, including a death notice which appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper, a birth record from England, and a marriage record.

William Straw is one of those veterans, who because he did not live in one place for most of his life, is easily forgotten by the local communities where he actually lived.

Additional information is sought about him and his family as well as his military record.