Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

William Reinberger – Farmer of Halifax Township

Posted By on June 2, 2017


William Reinbarger died on 23 April 1926, and is buried at the Fetterhoff’s Cemetery, Halifax Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. His Findagrave Memorial does not note that he was a veteran of the Civil War.

The spelling variations of the surname make it difficult to research this individual.  His name is found as Rineberger, Rinebarger, Rynberger, Rhineberger, Reinberger, and several other ways.  The spelling he probably preferred was Reinberger, as that is how his name appeared in the Elizabethville Echo nearly two dozen times, including for his obituary.  However, as can be seen from the gravemarker photo above, the family had Rinebarger placed on the grave marker.

A portion of the obituary and funeral information for William Reinberger from the Elizabethville Echo of 29 April 1926 appears above and entire text appears below:


Funeral services for William Reinberger, aged 85 [sic], veteran of the Civil War, who died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Hannah Rutter, at Halifax, were held at two o’clock, Tuesday afternoon at the Rutter home and burial made in the Fetterhoff Church Cemetery.

Mr. Reinberger was born 19 September 1839 and died 23 April 1926, thus bringing his age to 86 years, 7 months and 12 days.  His wife preceded him in death 16 years ago.

He is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Hannah L. Ritter of Halifax, with whom he had made his home in latter years, one son Henry Reinberger of Camp Hill; nine grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild.  He was a veteran of the Civil War, a member of Company A, 210th P. V., Pennsylvania Infantry [210th Pennsylvania Infantry].

For many years he had lived in the vicinity of Fisherville and later moved to Halifax.  Rev. J. F. Stabley of Fisherville and Rev. C. E. Heffleger of Halifax officiated at the funeral services.

William Reinberger‘s Civil war service is documented by the following records:

  1. Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index Card from Pennsylvania Archives & Steve Maczuga’s Pennsylvania Civil War Soldier Database:  Service noted in the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, as a Private.  Mustered into service 10 September 1864 and honorably discharged on 23 May 1865.
  2. Pension Index Card (Ancestry.com):  Service in 210th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A.  Pension application submitted 21 July 1865.  Pension received.  There was no widow’s pension because she preceded him in death.
  3. 1890 Veterans’ Census:   Residence at Fisherville.  Service in 210th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, as a Private.  Service from 6 September 1864 through 5 June 1865.  Disability:  “Blind of left eye; his blindness comes from disease in service.”

For most of his life, William was a farmer in the Armstrong Valley.  His census locations were Halifax Township, Jackson Township, and Fisherville.

About 1862, William Reinberger married Louisa Fawber, who was born in May 1841.  She died of heart disease after about five years of suffering on 19 June 1911.

Any reader with additional information about this veteran is invited to submit it.


Levi C. Ressler – Lived Last Years in Tower City

Posted By on May 31, 2017

The obituary of Levi C. Patrick appeared in the Lebanon Semi-Weekly of 13 September 1915:

Levi C. Ressler, Civil War Veteran

Died at Tower City

Levi C. Ressler died at his home at Tower City at 3:40 o’clock Thursday morning , after being ill since last Sunday night. He was a veteran of the Civil War, having served four years at the front in Company B, Sixth Regiment of Cavalry [sic].

Mr. Ressler was to have attended the Veteran Soldier Celebration in Pottstown last Monday and had made all preparations but Sunday night he was taken ill with a complication of diseases and died at the hour mentioned.

Fraternally, he was a member of William Thompson Post, No. 174, G.A.R. of Tower City…. Besides his wife there remain two sons, Perry Ressler and Warren Ressler, the latter of Tamaqua. Clothier Patrick, of Tower City, is a brother-in-law.

Mr. Ressler was a carpenter by trade and of late years live a retired life.  He formerly lived here [Lebanon County].  He was a member of the Trinity Reformed Church.  The funeral will take place Sunday afternoon.  He is the second member of the G.A.R. at Tower City to die within a week.

The regiment in which Levi C. Ressler served in the war was incorrectly identified as cavalry in the obituary.  On 10 July 1861, he enrolled at Georgetown[Dalmatia] Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, in the 6th Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry [35th Pennsylvania Infantry], Company B, as  Private. At the time, he said he was 24 years old.  He was mustered into service at Washington, D.C., on 27 July 1861, and served until he was honorably discharged on 11 June 1864.

About 1872, he married Elizabeth “Eliza” Patrick.  Her brother was the Tower City “clothier Patrick” referred to in the obituary. According to the census of 1900, Levi worked [for his brother-in-law?] as a clothing salesman after moving to Tower City from Lebanon County where he lived in 1890.  By the 1910 census, Levi again gave his occupation as carpenter.

Levi C. Ressler was born in Northumberland County.  His parents were Solomon Ressler, a cabinet maker, and Catherine A. [Haas] Ressler.  In 1870, the family was living in Mifflin Township, Dauphin County, where Levi was working as a carpenter.  In 1880, Levi and his wife Catherine had moved to Porter Township, Schuylkill County, where Levi continued in his trade of carpenter.

Levi’s grave has not yet been located to be photographed.  One source, the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Burial Card from the Pennsylvania Archives, indicates that he is buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Tower City, while another source, the Klingerstown Bicentennial Album, indicates he is buried at Zion Cemetery, Hickory Corners, Northumberland County.

Also, this is another veteran who is not honored on the Tower City – Porter Township Veterans’ Memorial, but should be, especially if he was a member of the G.A.R. Post there!

Readers are asked to supply additional information about this veteran.  Please add as comments to this post or send via e-mail.


Peter B. Rank – Merchant of Williamstown

Posted By on May 29, 2017

Peter B. Rank was born 31 October 1839.  During the Civil War, he served in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1863), Company D, as a Corporal, from about 2 July 1863 through discharge at the end of the emergency, 26 August 1863.  He married the former Pauline Rudy, and with her had four children.  He died in Williamstown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, 24 October 1901.

His obituary, and that of his father-in-law, Martin Rudy, appeared in the Lebanon Evening Report, 30 October 1901:


Record of Those Who Are Claimed by the Grim Reaper


Further Details Regarding the Last Rites for Peter B. Rank and Martin Rudy Who Were in a Common Family Bond – The City.

Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania, 30 October 1901 — The funeral of Peter B. Rank, from his late residence at Williamstown, Dauphin County, took place on Monday morning at 9:30 o’clock.  Interment was in the Cedar Hill Cemetery at this place.  The deceased leaves the following children:  Emma Rank; Charles Rank; and Edgar Rank.  The funeral was in charge of Undertaker Hess.  Rev. W. H. Dale officiated.  The pallbearers were Amos Lebo; Ed Berry; George Lenker; William Smith;William James; and James Woffenden….

In the afternoon of the same day, Martin Rudy, the oldest citizen of Fredericksburg, and the father-in-law of Mr. Rank, was laid to rest.  Deceased was aged 78 years old.  The funeral was in charge of Undertaker Gerhart, Rev. Mr. Hilbish preached the funeral sermon.  The pallbearers were Simon P. Boltz; Isaac Abling; William Schoeffer; and Franklin Leitz.  The remains reposed in a black walnut coffin, heavily adorned.  In life he was a stalwart Democrat, a member of the Reformed Church, and by trade was a tanner, which he carried on at this place for many years.  The following are the surviving children:  Mrs. John Wise; Miss Sabine Rudy; Mrs. J. F. Strauss; and Mrs. Jacob Schnofferly.

The Lebanon Courier and Semi-Weekly of 30 October gave the following additional information:

Peter Rank, a prominent and highly respected merchant and for many years engaged in the general merchandise business, at Williamstown, Dauphin County, died on Thursday morning, after an illness of only a few days.  Death was caused by pneumonia.  He was a son of the late Jacob Rank, a resident of Union Township, this county…. Deceased was well known in this city and was a relative to the Mader family, John R. Rieber, William R. Bobb and Miss Sallie Bobb.

The death notice also appeared in the Lebanon Daily News and in the Harrisburg Daily Independent.  None of the obituaries mentioned that Peter B. Rank was a Civil War veteran, and his Findagrave Memorial does not mention that fact either.

In 1890, Peter B. Rank reported his military service to the census, and that it how it was determined that this long-time Williamstown resident and merchant belonged in the list of Civil War veterans from the greater Lykens Valley area. He is buried in Lebanon County because he spent his early life there.

Additional information is sought about Peter B. Rank, his family, and his military services.

John J. Rathvon – Obituary Notes More War Service than Supporting Records

Posted By on May 26, 2017

The name of John Rathvon appears on the Millersburg Soldier Monument as someone who served in the Civil War from the Millersburg area.  When and how did he serve is the focus of this blog post.

The obituary of John J. Ratahvon appeared in the Elizabethville Echo on 8 December 1932:

Millersburg Veteran Buried on Sunday

Funeral services for John Rathvon, age 92 years, who died at his home after a short illness, were held Sunday afternoon, from the Minier Funeral Parlors at that place.  Interment was made in Oak Hill Cemetery where members of the Steever R. Day Post American Legion conducted military rites at the grave.  Mr. Rathvon was Millersburg‘s last Civil War veteran.

He learned his trade in an iron foundry at Millersburg.  As a young man he emigrated to Ohio.  Later he decided to move on to Montana and boarded a river steamer at St. Louis.  This boat had to be abandoned because of an Indian attack.  Mr. Rathvon resumed passage on another boat and disembarked near Fort Benton.  For a time he was captain of a boat that went up and down the Missouri River, buying buffalo hides and furs from trappers and traders.

In Montana, Mr. Rathvon prospected for gold and found pay dirt but was driven from further endeavor by Indian attacks.  Returning east, Mr. Rathvon enlisted with the Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia in June 1863, and saw service during the Battle of Gettysburg.  When this term expired, he re-enlisted for the remainder of the Civil War, receiving his honorable discharge at Harrisburg.

After his return to Millersburg, Mr. Rathvon entered the greenhouse business, becoming a grower of flowers and other plants, in which he engaged for many years.

If the obituary is to be believed, John Rathvon served from just before Gettysburg through the end of the war, and therefore, there should be records available to document that.

In 1890, when given a chance to indicate whether he was a Civil War veteran, John Rathvon reported that he had served in the 6th Pennsylvania Militia [6th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1862)] from September 1862 through October 1862.  This was the only service he reported to the census!  Above portion of census from Ancestry.com.

A Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card for John Rathvon from the Pennsylvania Archives confirms that service.  On 13 September 1862, at Halifax, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, he enrolled in the 6th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1862), Company E, as a Private, and served for the duration of the emergency until 27 September 1862, when he was honorably discharged.  At the time of his enrollment, he said he was 21 years old and resided in Millersburg.

Under the name of John Rathvon, no other Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Cards were located.

The obituary stated he served at Gettysburg, so his name was entered into the Steve Maczuga search site for names that appear on the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg.  The result that came up was for a John J. Rathvon who served in Company K of the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1863), as a Private.  That name was located on the monument tablet, as shown above.  However, in the Steve Maczuga’s database of Pennsylvania soldiers, when searching for the surname “Rathvon,” no one by the name of John J. Rathvon was listed in that regiment and company.  With one more way to search the Steve Maczuga’s database (by regiment) the list of all men who served in any 26th Pennsylvania regiment and company was examined, and there in the listing was a “John J. Rathboon” who served in Company K of the militia as a Corporal.  Armed with that information, a return to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Card File at the Pennsylvania Archives resulted in a matching card, shown below:

The card indicates that on 18 June 1863, at Millersburg, he enrolled in the emergency militia, 26th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company K, as a Private, he was mustered into service on the 20 June 1863,and on 24 June 1863, he was appointed Corporal.  At the end of the emergency, on 30 July 1863, he was discharged.  When he enrolled, he gave his age as 22.  Therefore, he did serve at Gettysburg as indicated in the obituary.

Note:  By searching for “Rathboon” in Fold3, an additional spelling came up of the surname:  “Rattsboon,” under which his military records for the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1863) are filed!

At this point, if John J. Rathbone did re-enlist after Gettysburg and serve for the duration of the war, no other military records have been located to support that service – under any of the spellings of the surname!  And, no Pension Index Card has been found to support that he applied for a pension, which surely would have been the case at some point in his old age when he would have felt entitled by surviving as long as he did.  It should be noted here that while several attempts were made to allow pensions to be issued to men who served only in state militia regiments, those pensions were never approved or granted, and the only way a militia-man could get a pension was to serve a cumulative total of three months (or be seriously injured as a result of his militia service).  Few qualified under the “serious injury” requirement and no cumulative service in militia-only regiments met the three month minimum.

The Montana “experience,” as described in the obituary, had to occur between the 1860 census, when John was enumerated as an “apprentice molder” in Millersburg, and his service in the 6th Pennsylvania Militia, which occurred in late 1862.  Thus far, no documents have been located that actually place him in Montana.

Strangely, John J. Rathvon is named on the Millersburg Soldier Monument, while his brother Ambrose Rathvon is not.  Is there an explanation for this?  John was alive and living in Millersburg when the monument was dedicated and he may be pictured in the group photo that was taken the day of the dedication.  Ambrose had died in 1905, prior to the erection of the monument.

Finally, about 1880, John J. Rathvon married Sarah Elizabeth “Sallie” Miller, the daughter of George S. Miller and Elizabeth [Lower] Miller.  No record has been seen to indicate they had any children.  Sallie died in 1916, and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, Millersburg.  See her Findagrave Memorial.  When George died in 1932, he too was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.  Although he was the last surviving Civil War veteran from Millersburg, nothing is mentioned on his Findagrave Memorial of his military service.

Any additional information that can be supplied about John J. Rathvon would be appreciated and should either be added as a comment to this post or sent via e-mail.



Ambrose Rathvon – Emergency Man, President of Millersburg Planing Mill Company

Posted By on May 24, 2017

Two entries appear in the 1893 Harrisburg City Directory for the Millersburg Planing Mill Company, as seen in the page portion above.  In the first entry, the company is named in the alphabetical listing with officers given as follows:  Ambrose Rathvon, President; Ramsey E. Moyer, Treasurer; and H. Frank Sheetz, Secretary.  At the bottom of the page there is an advertisement which reads:

F. H. HANTZMAN, Agent for the Millersburg Planing Mill Co.  Corner of Briggs and Cowden Streets, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  ALL KINDS OF BUILDING MATERIAL AND LUMBER, Sash, Doors, Shutters, Blinds, Porches, Store Fronts, Siding and Flooring.  All Orders Filled Promptly.  Estimates Furnished on Application.

In the 1850 census for Upper Paxton Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, Ambrose Rathvon was living with his parents.  He was recorded as 10 years old.

In the 1860 census for Millersburg, Ambrose was still living with his parents, but was working as a carpenter.  He was recorded as 22 years old.

In the 1863 Civil War Draft, shown above from Ancestry.com, Ambrose Rathvon, living in Millersburg,  claimed he was 25 years old, was working as a carpenter, and was married.  At that time, he reported no current of previous Civil War service.

However, as documented on the Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card from the Pennsylvania Archives (shown above), Ambrose Rathvon had already served in the 6th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1862), Company E, as a Private, from about 13 September 1862 through discharge at the end of the emergency on 27 September 1862.  At the time, he enrolled at Halifax, claimed his residence as Millersburg, and his age as 24. No other Civil War service record for him has been found.

In 1870, Ambrose was living in Upper Paxton Township, where he was living with his wife, the former Catherine Heckert, two small children, and working as a farmer.

In 1880, Ambrose was back in Millersburg as a carpenter.  His wife Catherine and five children were members of his household.

In 1890, Ambrose Rathvon reported his Civil War service to the census, claiming he served with the “Emergency Men” and naming the militia regiment and company of his service, as well as his rank of Corporal.  In 1890, he was still living in Millersburg.

In 1893, according to the previously mentioned Harrisburg City Directory (see top of post), he was president of the Millersburg Planing Mill Company.

In 1900, Ambrose Rathvon had changed occupation to that of “florist.”  He was still living in Millersburg with his wife Catherine, but only one daughter remained in the household.

As of this writing, an obituary has not been found for Ambrose Rathvon, but his wife died in 1920 as reported by the 25 November 1920 Elizabethville Echo.


Mrs. Catharine Rathvon, widow of the late Ambrose Rathvon and daughter of the late Daniel Heckert, died at Millersburg last Saturday morning of congestion of the lungs at the age of 80 years. Funeral services were held on Tuesday afternoon by Rev. Mark. L. Burger of the Evangelical Church.  Burial in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Searching for Ambrose Rathvon in Findagrave, produced a photograph of his grave marker:

Ambrose Rathvon is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, Millersburg, and his wife Catherine is buried next to him.  However, there is no indication in the photo that he was a veteran of the Civil War, nor is there any indication in the Findagrave Memorial.  There is also a problem with the birth date as recorded on the stone as 14 August 1827.  Ambrose Rathvon, according to all other records (census and Civil War included), was more likely born in 1837, not 1827.  Yet, it is clear that this is the same Ambrose Rathvon who served in the Civil War – and the same Ambrose Rathvon who was the president of the Millersburg Planing Mill Company.  The only place the date of death has thus far been found and verified, is on the grave stone – 12 July 1905.

What is possible here is that since the widow died 15 years after Ambrose, the stone was not placed on his grave until her stone was placed after her death, and whoever contracted the stone, did not accurately know what year he was born.

More information is sought about Ambrose Rathvon – in particular why he is not included in the list of those who served from Millersburg, and why he was not named on the Millersburg Soldier Monument?  Information can be added as a comment to this blog post or sent via e-mail.  Also, is there a picture available of him?


Note:  The brother of Ambrose Rathvon, John Rathvon, is named on the Millersburg Soldier Monument.  John served in the same emergency regiment as Ambrose.