Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

St. Clair – A Coal Town’s Disaster-Prone Industry

Posted By on August 31, 2016


In 1987, Knopf published Anthony F. C. Wallace‘s St. Clair, A Nineteenth Century Coal Town’s Experience with a Disaster-Prone Industry.  St. Clair is located in the anthracite coal fields just a few miles north of Pottsville.  While slightly outside the geographical area covered by the Civil War Research Project, there are several interesting observations that can be made, particularly in the area of resistance to the draft of July 1863.

  1. “In July 1863, a national conscription act was passed.  Resistance was immediate…. In Schuylkill [County], the commander of the local regulars… reported to Washington that the miners of Cass Township had organized an anti-draft army of 2,000 to 3,000 men, commanded and drilled by discharged veterans, and possessed not only of small arms but some pieces of artillery.  They had threatened… ‘to burn down the houses and coal breakers owned by Republicans’ and had served ‘cautionary notices’ on prominent citizens….  The army sent additional troops and, under cover of military force, conscription was effected by late August.  By then hatred was intense on both sides.  The military feared that if the troops were withdrawn, Pottsville would be ‘laid in ashes and a thousand barbarities committed.'” (page 327)
  2. “The immediate target of the draft resisters’ revenge seems to have been the colliery operators and mine superintendents who cooperated with draft officials and the military occupation, particularly those operators who supplied the authorities with colliery pay lists, from which the names of eligible draftees could be selected.” (page 327)
  3. “St. Clair men in the Union service, as volunteers or conscripts, were numerous, especially in the 48th Regiment [48th Pennsylvania Infantry]….[which] saw some of the heaviest fighting of the war….  Service in the 48th… would seem to have been almost as dangerous as working in the mines back home.”  (page 328)
  4. “Nothing… suggests that Irish miners did in fact fail to bear their full share of the burden of service and casualties… but after the war the bitterness of some Irish conscripts and their families toward the mine operators… festered on….” (page 328).

Sources for the information on the draft resistance came from issues of the Miners’ Journal which was published in Pottsville.


Three Men Named Lewis Kopp of Tower City Area

Posted By on August 29, 2016

There are now known to be three men named Lewis Kopp who had some connection to the Tower City area and to Civil War service.

Two of them served in the Civil War and one was the son of a Civil War veteran:

  1. Lewis Kopp (or Ludwig Kopp), born about 1846 in Germany.  Served in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H, as a Private.  He died of disease on 1 October 1864 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
  2. Lewis Kopp (or Lewis Kupp), was born in Schuylkill County about 1845.  He served in the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1863), Company C and/or Company I, as a Private.  He died on 9 January 1931 and is buried at the Greenwood Cemetery, Tower City.
  3. Lewis Kopp (1846-1923) was the son of Civil War veteran Daniel Kopp (or Daniel Kopps), a Prussian immigrant who served in the Regimental Band of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. This Lewis Kopp had no known Civil War service.

The main point to be made here is that the Lewis Kopp honored on the Tower City Veterans’ Memorial and honored by a memorial brick at the same memorial is the one who served in the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1863).  The Lewis Kopp who died in the war and who served as a Private in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, is not honored on the Tower City Veterans’ Memorial, but should be honored because he has a connection to Tower City.

On 25 January 2011, in a post entitled “Tower City – Porter Township Centennial – Civil War Veterans List,” the name of “Lewis Kopp” was mentioned as a veteran.

Then, on 23 July 2012, in a post entitled “Tower City, Porter and Rush Township Civil War Veterans – Part 6,” gave the following information:

LEWIS W. KOPP (1846-1864), also known as “Ludwig Kopp” and “Louis Kopp,” died during the Civil War but that fact is not noted on his nameplate on the Tower City Memorial (a “*” before the name indicates a war death).  He was German immigrant who joined the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H, as a Private on 2 March 1864 with his death occurring just seven months later, 1 October 1864.  He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

Family members of Lewis Kopp also provided a memorial brick which is located on the terrace in front of the Tower City Memorial.

And, on 25 September 2012, the following was reported here as part of a post on Greenwood Cemetery, Tower City:

This stone and its dates of 1845-1931, confirms that this is for a different Lewis Kopp than previously thought who served in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, was from Schuylkill County and who died in the Civil War.  The Lewis Kopp who is buried here served in the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1863), Company C, as a Private, and died in 1931.  His wife’s name was Margaret….  This Lewis Kopp was a mine laborer.  It should also be noted that the memorial brick at the Tower City Veterans’ Memorial as well as the name plate there, probably refer to the Lewis Kopp who is buried in Greenwood Cemetery and not to the Lewis Kopp who died in the Civil War.

Now, since the above postings, a third person named Lewis Kopp has been located.  That Lewis Kopp did not serve in the Civil War, but his father, Daniel Kopp did serve.


Daniel Kopp (or Kopps), was born in Prussia about 1816 and served as a Musician in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, Regimental Band, from 24 August 1861 through 17 August 1862, when he was discharged by General Order.  Daniel was about 45 when he enrolled in Schuylkill County, his occupation was miner and his residence was Pottsville.


On 4 December 1879, Daniel Kopp applied for a pension and was awarded benefits which he collected until his death.  There was no widow.  Source:  Pension Index Card, Fold3.

Information on Ancestry.com indicates Daniel’s wife’s name was Catherine.

For most of his life after emigrating to the United States, Daniel Kopp lived in Tremont, Schuylkill County, which is not far from Tower City.  Daniel and Catherine had at least 6 children, the oldest of whom appears to be Lewis W. Kopp, who was born 11 December 1846, lived most of his life in Tremont, and died there on 7 October 1923.  Early on, Lewis worked as a coal miner, but by 1900 he was a tax collector and by 1910, he was an insurance agent.  Census records give his wife’s name as Alice.  However, no Civil War records have been located for him.

Corrections and additions are always welcome!  Please attach as comments or send via e-mail.


John O’Hara – Ourselves to Know

Posted By on August 26, 2016


“The late American historian Shelby Foote remarked that the following passage from Ourselves to Know [by novelist John O’Hara] is ‘…the single finest thing ever written about the Civil War.'”*

A few months after the visit of the cavalrymen and a few weeks after the Fourth of July the noon train brought home two men who had been in the great battle at Gettysburg. Although they wore uniforms they did not seem to Robert to be soldiers; they were more like men he had seen riding home in a wagon after an accident at the colliery. Their beards were untrimmed, their jackets spotted and half buttoned, and one of them could not put on his cap because his head was wrapped in bandage. The other had lost a foot and his pant-leg was folded over and pinned. He could not manage his crutch coming down the steps of the coach and he threw it angrily to the station platform. He faced the crowd and called out: “Will some son of a bitch give me a hand?” But before anyone could reach him he lost his balance and fell forward, knocking down a man and woman who had gone to help him. The soldier with the bandaged head ignored the confusion at his feet and shouted: “Where’s Mary? Mary, where the hell are you, God damn you to hell.”
“Here I am, John. Here I am,” cried the woman in the crowd.
“Well, come and get me, God damn you, woman.”
“The crowd then realized that although the man’s eyes were not covered, he was blind. The remaining civilian members of the fife and drum corps were on hand to escort the wounded men to their homes, but no one now thought of a welcoming parade. The fifers put their instruments back in their boots and the drummers slung their drums over their shoulders and soon the station platform was deserted.

The scene above took place in the fictional town of Lyons, Pennsylvania, O’Hara’s name for the actual town of Lykens, Dauphin County, where John O’Hara, as a youth, spent the summers visiting his maternal grandparents.  The novel is not about the Civil War,  but has several scenes describing the influence of the war on the character Robert Millhouser, who killed his wife in 1908.  Millhouser was born in Lyons in 1855, and related his life story to Gerald Higgins (the character of John O’Hara).  Higgins began writing Millhouser’s life story in 1927.  According to the dust jacket description:

The mystery of Robert Millhouser lay not in the facts of the affair [the killing of his wife].  The facts were known, or easily discoverable, and they are recorded in this chronicle exactly as they happened.  Gerald Higgins’ purpose was not primarily to reconstruct a crime but, through that reconstruction, to reveal a man.  Through his painstaking explorations of Millhouser’s heritage, his one close friendship, and his relationship with his parents, his servants and the members of his community, Gerald found him to be a man of intelligence, charm, integrity, good will.  And in this man’s conscious decision to destroy by killing lay a far more fundamental mystery about the inner forces by which mankind is betrayed.

For information on the actual railroad station where the incident described above took place, see:  (1) Lykens Railroad Station; and (1) Civil War Railroad Structures of Lykens.

*For additional information about the Civil War passage, see the John O’Hara Society Blogspot.




Henry B. Meffert – Grandson of Elizabethville Founder Died in Missouri

Posted By on August 24, 2016

In researching the descendants of John Bender (1780-1827), who laid out the town of Elizabethville in 1817, Henry Benjamin Meffert was discovered as a Civil War soldier who served in the 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F, as a Private and a Corporal.  Portraits of Henry B. Meffert and his wife Lydia Dell Tunks are shown above.

Elizabeth [Bender] Meffert

Henry’s mother was Elizabeth Bender (1807-1893), the daughter of John Bender, thus making Henry B. Meffert the grandson of the founder of ElizabethvilleJohn Bender died in Elizabethville in 1824, so it is likely that Elizabeth Bender was living there at the time of his death.  It is not known for certain where Jacob Meffert (1799-1870) was born, but the marriage of Henry B. Meffert‘s parents took place in Harrisburg in 1827.  Henry B. Meffert was born on 29 June 1838, in Dauphin County, according to his draft registration record.  However, at the time of the Civil War, he was living in the western part of Pennsylvania.


According to the Veterans’ File Card available from the Pennsylvania Archives, Henry was 23 years old when he enrolled at Meadville, Pennsylvania, on 19 August 1861.  He was mustered into service on 3 September 1861 at Erie, Pennsylvania, as a Private in Company F, 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry.  On 20 May 1862, he was appointed Corporal.  On 30 August 1862 he was wounded at Bull Run, Virginia, and as a result of those wounds was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability on 18 September 1862.  Other records show that he was first wounded on 27 June 1862 at Gaines Mills, Virginia.

After the Civil War, Henry B. Meffert moved to Caldwell County, Missouri, where he worked as a farmer and raised of family of at least 3 children.


Presumably, Henry B. Meffert‘s war injuries were sufficient to receive a disability pension, which he applied for on 22 June 1863.  There is no state of application noted in the far right column of the Pension Index Card (shown above from Ancestry.com), so he may have returned home to Pennsylvania prior to going west.  Lydia, the widow, applied on 28 September 1909, from Missouri.

Henry B. Meffert died on 11 September 1909, in Caldwell County, Missouri.  His wife, Lydia D. Meffert survived him, but only for short time. She died on 22 January 1910.  Both are buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Caldwell County, Missouri.  For additional information, see their Findagrave Memorial.  Obituaries have not yet been located for either Henry or Lydia.

Has any reader obtained either the military or pension records?  What was the nature of Henry’s military injuries that gave him a discharge and permitted an early pension?



Descendants of John Bender, Founder of Elizabethville

Posted By on August 22, 2016

In researching Civil War soldiers with a connection to Elizabethville, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, a question was asked by Jack Richter who is researching veterans for the Elizabethville Bicentennial, whether Dr. Wilson E. Naylor, a retired dentist of Elizabethville, was related to John Bender, considered to be Elizabethville‘s founder in 1817, which he named for his wife.  John Bender also founded the town of Bendersville there.

The obituary of Dr. Naylor, previously presented here on 3 November 2012, noted that following his Civil War service, Wilson Naylor practiced dentistry in Gettysburg and Bendersville, in Adams County, from 1864 to 1914. He then retired to Elizabethville. But, Dr. Naylor is buried in Bendersville.

Trying to determine a relationship was difficult and while to date, no relationship has been discovered, it is still possible that a relationship exists.

Initially, Marilyn Henninger, President of the Elizabethville Area Historical Society, provided a 15 page printout of the descendants of John Bender that was printed from a GEDCOM compiled a few years ago by researcher Evelyn Hartman.  Several descendant lines were not fully extended, so a better genealogy was sought.

Roger Cramer, who has one of the most comprehensive databases of persons descended from the pioneer settlers of the Lykens Valley area (approaching 200,000 names), was consulted and he offered a printout of 170 pages.  Roger’s printout has detailed information on most of the descendants.  Civil War soldiers are identified.  Roger has also added information from newly available on-line source material to his database (death certificates, marriage licenses, church records, etc.) and has recently gone back over the Lykens Valley census records line by line to verify dates and relationships.

The printout provided by Roger Cramer, begins with Adam Bender (1751-1826), the father of John Bender.

Surnames introduced in “Generation No. 2” include:  Long, Messersmith/Messerschmidt, Wingert/Wingard, Gipple/Kipple, Snyder/Schneider, and Hopple.

Some of the surnames introduced in “Generation No. 3” include:  Lebo, Fisher, Dietrich/Deitrich, Yeager, Botts, Romberger/Ramberger, Welker, Schupp/Shoop, Albright, Shraeder, Hoover, Griesemer, Keiter, Meffert, Hawk, Low, Zimmerman, Whitmore/Whitmer/Witmer, Drum/Drumm, Miller, Eby, Reisch, Fetterhoff, Boyer, Matter, Miller, Enders, Reichert, Schreffler, Bechtel, Schmidt, Bretz, Buffington, Lebo, Bowman, Enterline, Ott, Yeartz, Leese, Hoy, Frymoyer, Staple, Lenker, Sausser, Smith, Hoffman, Witman, McColly, Morgan, Kocher, Shiley, Wise, Beck, Messner, Sheetz, Kolva, Minnich, Paul, Wilbert/Wilvert, Yoder, Howerter, Alvord, Jackson, Schindel/Shindel, Bressler, Rowe/Row, Shiley, Shadow, Koons, McPhetridge, Cook, Coonfield, Truitt, Shontz, Novinger, Schultz, Moyer, Lubold/Lupold, Orth, Book, Etzweiler, Stakley, Klinger, Brown, Fesig, Schell/Shell, Murray, Kembel, Wirth, Huntzinger, Shindler, Hower, Hepner, Werfel, Kiefer, Koppenhaver, Fisher, Walter, Shutt/Shott, Hess, Foster, Sollenberg, Dunkel, Bowman, Paul, Nold, Lyter, Hettrick, Meckley, Bendigo, Leffler, Schwab/Swab, Etter, Bower, Lentz, Lehman, Sponsler, Spendt, Taylor, Daniel, Morgan, Siefert, Moser, Allgaier, Mosloskie, Ossman/Osman, File, Kebaugh, Bonawitz, Weaver, Barry, Minnich, Reedy, Collier, Hummel, Mauser/Mausser, Wolfe/Wolf, Bateman, McNeal, Shuey, Gerhard, Hiteman, Groff, Shade, Hunter, Cook, Machamer, Dresel, Kinter, Phillips/Philips, Raudenbush, Books, Rutter, Wetzel, Williams, Clelan, White, Arbogast, Workman, Kerns, Carnathan, Barto, Yeagley, Byerly, Radel, Hulmer, Musser, Murphy, Hoke, Herman, Hendricks, Becher, Leitzel, Celano, Troutman, Savage, Shomper, Murray, Pritchard, Maurer, Malnick, Kohr, Pennell, Tobias, Nace, Rutter, Bilger, Kinsinger, Thomas, Primm, Koons, James, Evans, Simmonds, Kreiner, Devine, Ritzman, Smeltz, Gaskill, Boden, Orr, Kopp, Houtz, Harter, Chubb, Beadle, Webb, Rettinger, Weirich, Stahl, Torey, Trout, Wright, Daniels, Schoffstall, Coleman, Holwig, Geise/Gise, Travitz, Grell, Pinkerton, Solence, Underkoffler, Starnowsky, Stuppy, Herb, Sites, Warner, Potter, Holtzman, Myers, Hand, Umholtz, Davis, Mabon, Schlein, Riegle/Reigle, Webner, Campbell, etc.

A copy of the Bender descendants as provided by Roger Cramer is available at the Elizabethville Area Historical Society.

If anyone researching the John Bender descendants can show a genealogical relationship between him (or his descendants) and Dr. Wilson Naylor, the information would greatly be appreciated by those doing research for the Elizabethville Bicentennial.