St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Friday, November 18, 2011

What Secrets are in her Death?

The wind is blowing as I sit and watch the beautiful day unfold before me.  As the branches on the trees sway, the leaves fall.  In addition to the leaves, the nuts are also falling.  Now, these nuts are big and can cause one to slip if they get underfoot.

Just like genealogy.  Shake the trees and see what falls that can trip you up in your research. 

I have a handwritten note by my grandmother which gives a little information about my grandfather's family.  The note tells us that my grandfather's grandparents, Robert Coleman POSTON and Hester Leggette COX, were rice planters and lived in Georgetown.  Grandmother also names six children of the couple with names of the females who did not marry.

Like every good genealogist, I now have to confirm all these leaves falling into my lap. It's rather easy to trace the location of the farm and document some of the children through the census records.  The first moment of a stray nut is the 1910 census which says the couple had ten children but only six were living.  I've been able to document nine of them who also have some mysteries of their own.

What is more interesting is how some marriage stats change with the census records.  While my grandmother said two of the girls did not marry, there is evidence that makes me scratch my head.  One example is Aunt Wash.  Grandmother said she did not marry, and I would tend to think that Grandmother knew if she was or not.   Aunt Wash's death certificate suggests otherwise.

The 1910 census also shows Aunt Wash as being single at the ripe old age of 39 with no children of her own, and living with her widowed mother.

I have found a JW POSTON with wife, Martha, in the 1930 census in Chesterfield Co, SC.  However, this census indicates they married around 1890, and they have several children.

According to the death certificate, Martha Washington POSTON was born November 1, 1870, in Florence Co, SC.  She dies five days after her 71st birthday in 1941.  The parents listed are what I suspected, but the surprise is that she is listed as a widow of James POSTON.  Who?  How?  When?  The informant is listed as Mrs. R C WHITE of Charleston.  Who?

I have seen a photo of her grave at Riverview Memorial Park in Charleston which says she was a loving mother.  Hmmm. When did that happen?  Did she marry late in life?  Did she raise children for a widower?

I'll be interested in seeing the 1940 census when it becomes available.  Perhaps, I will be able to trace who this Mrs WHITE is.  Perhaps, that will lead me in another direction.

Maybe I can get to Charleston and find her obituary.  Perhaps, that would help to clear the path.  In the meantime, watching the trees sway on this cool day seems just the perfect way to reflect on the past.

Ahh, genealogy.  Those unexpected secrets in the family tree are just so, well, gone with the wind. Eh?

©2011 AS Eldredge

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dotting the I's, Crossing the T's and Reading Ye Olde Documents

True genealogy buffs know what it is like to struggle to read old documents.  Not only can the microfilm be scratched or faded, the writing can be akin to a different language.  I've seen "s" written as "f".  And the slant? Oh my, however did they read their own writing?

Just when you're ready to throw your hands up in the air and run out to purchase even more eye drops for the inevitable eye strain, there's hope in our wonderful age of technology.

Did you realize you can get rid of the neck cricks from angling your head to one side as you try to decipher the old handwriting?  Tis easy, I say.

Let's take this document as our example.

This is an 1852 affidavit of William Shaw providing details of Robert COLEMAN and his wife, Prudence.  The lovely widow Prudence had applied for a Revolutionary War pension and this document is part of the packet held by NARA.  You will note it's easier to make out some words if your squint and hold your head to the left.

Now, take a look after a little stroke of the keyboard.

The effect used on the document is found on Photoshop.  After opening Photoshop, go to image on the toolbar.  Go to "transform" in the drop down menu and choose "skew."  Then, grab the top of the document and head left until you are happy with the slant.  This is a great tool to use.  I image that other photo editing programs also allow for skewing.

What fun this is, and just think how much it will save you on eye drops and aspirin!

Ahh, genealogy. Reading old documents is a sure fire way to find your past, one skew at a time.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Sleep Little Angels, Be Not Forgotten

When researching old cemeteries, it quickly becomes obvious that among the expected deaths of the old and sick are the high numbers of infants.  How many infants are lying with their mothers who soon followed them or lying alone with no headstone?  How many infants are listed as being the "infant section"?

To feed my genealogy addiction, I tend to search around for any new information that has been placed online.  Recently, a new collection of deaths in Pittsburgh, PA, has been placed online by the Family Search crew.  The dates range from 1870-1905.

I looked for some of my surnames and was disappointed.  Then, I looked some more and found a couple of names.  Then, I found a new name, an infant daughter of Cassius M LEA and second wife, Mary Ellen HICKEY.  

This sweet angel, Elizabeth LEA died on August 5, 1882, after living for a brief period of time. She was the second child of the couple and is buried at the old St Clair Cemetery in Mt Lebanon, Allegheny, PA.

This sweet angel was not the first child that Cassius had lost so close to birth.  His first wife, Maggie, died a couple of days after the birth of their only child and daughter in 1872.

While there was a small headstone placed for Cassius at some point, we have yet to uncover one for Maggie or the two sweet angels.  I wonder if the sweet angels are close together in death.  I rather suspect they are as Cassius is buried with the family of Maggie.

So a new name is entered into the family tree and will now be remembered in the future.  Rest sweetly, little angel.

Ahh, genealogy. The angels of the past touch my heart in such a tender way.

Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905, V 32, p47

©2011 AS Eldredge

Monday, November 14, 2011

Confirmed: Grandpa Fought with Francis Marion

Revealing new evidence of rumors gone wild can be frustrating or it can be a shot of adrenaline.  As a teenager, I remember seeing the evidence from my dad's bloodline that documented a patriot in the American Revolution.  That name and line was drilled into my memory banks.  At the time, my mother also said her family fought in the American Revolution as well and, it was under Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox.

Fast forward to the present.  I had followed my mother's bloodline and not found any evidence to support this wild rumor.  Sure, her family lived in the general area of the Swamp Fox and they were certainly there at the time, but that was it.

Until a couple of weeks ago....

I was looking at her family once again just because I hadn't for some time.  I have found that stepping back and giving time to the many thoughts can sometimes assist me in opening my eyes.  Opening eyes and new ways of thinking can also lead to new evidence.


This time, I found a pension for the lovely widow, Prudence COLEMAN (d. 1841).  Now, I've known about Prudence for some years as she is my  4g-grandmother.  I had painstakingly traced the lines back with as much documentation as I could locate.  I have yet to find her maiden name, but there is still hope in my heart.

There it was from NARA.  A pension applied for by the widow of Robert COLEMAN (1755-1825).  Who knew this process would continue after her 1841 death?  The record group is No. 15, W23858.  This wonderful pension supplied the date of marriage and verified the names of the children.  Yipee, this confirms my research.

According to the affidavits found in the pension application, grandpa Robert served the American interests under the command of Captains Simonds and Witherspoon.  He also served in Brandon's Regiment in Marion's brigade.  He was in several skirmishes including the memorable Battle of Fort Moultrie near Charleston.  Grandpa was also sent by Francis Marion as a scout in pursuit of the British and Tories around Monck's Corner.

With my blood soaring again, I read each page of the pension application and used it to further document the line.  How much more fun can a genealogy buff have?

Another day, another super find.  Mama's words are proven true yet again.

Ahh, genealogy.   If only I could hear them from her lips again.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our Heroes of World War I Remembered Every Day

Veterans Day is upon us.  As we stop and take time to reflect on those wonderful heroes of the past that we call grandpa, cousin, brother, or uncle, be sure to thank the wonderful men and women who place their lives on the line for our freedoms today and everyday.

The Pittsburgh area newspaper project that I have been involved with for almost two years now is still growing.  Just this week, more than 4300 names were added to the death index.  As it has been from the beginning, this is a tremendous resource for those who are searching for our past.  The value to genealogy buffs for Pittsburgh area is priceless.  Of course, some of us want to find even more names on the index.  It's interesting to think about how many people have lived and died in our little area of the world. 

An added feature to this project has been the transcribing of old newspaper articles about the World War I military personnel from the Pittsburgh area.  There are a series of articles describing everyday life in France with our doughboys as one reporter lived and traveled with them over a period of months in the fall of 1918 and through the winter of 1919.

These articles, which appeared in the Pittsburgh Gazette can be read at .  For those who are interested in their Pittsburgh area roots, one of our awesome volunteers also took the time to index the names of the military personnel that were mentioned in the newspapers.  There are over 73000 names on the list.  Perhaps, you too will be find your loved one's name and the description of the battle in which they were wounded.  Perhaps, you will find tears running down your face as you realize what they went through for you and me.

So, say a prayer today for our military personnel and say a prayer for those brave warriors who believed in our country enough to fight for it and for us.

Ahh, genealogy.  A snapshot of the past has me on my knees praying for our military today.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

How is There a Heckler in the Group?

Last spring, I finally found the death date and final resting spot of William Wiley HUNNEWELL, the brother of my 2g grandmother.  With excitement growing by leaps and bounds, I asked a really cool friend of mine who lives in Pittsburgh to go and find the grave.  My sweet tea buddy, JR, sent the picture to me, and now, I am left with more questions.

There's a HECKLER among us.  What?

Let's jump back to what I do know through many slow hours of documentation, and with the assistance of another HUNNEWELL blood cousin of mine, Larry.

William Wiley HUNNEWELL was born Sept 19, 1848, in Pittsburgh.  He was a son of Benjamin F HUNNEWELL (abt 1806-1849) and Sallie Ellen (Helen?) BYLES.  Benjamin died when a cholera outbreak happened in the area, and the lovely widow was left to raise her seven children.  We find her having farmed out the older children in the 1850 census, leaving just her and only two of the younger children with her.  They were Mary Jane and William Wiley.

William joined the Union forces and served in the  Co. E, 102nd PA Infantry.  He was wounded in March 1865 when Lee attacked Fort Steadman.

After the war, he goes to Wisconsin for a bit.  He marries Alice G in 1884 and has one son, William B HUNNEWELL.  William B is living in Philadelphia in the 1920 census with a wife and two daughters.

As noted in a previous entry, William Wiley was a member of the GAR Post #3 in Pittsburgh. Read more about it here .

William Wiley marries Emma (1873-1931).  He then dies in October 1931 and is buried at Homewood Cemetery in Allegheny Co.

 From the Pitt Post Gazette  Oct 5, 1931

HUNNEWELL- At West Penn Hospital, on Saturday, October 3, 1931, at 11 am, William W, husband of the late Emma Hunnewell of 301 York Way. He was a member of the Post No. 3 GAR. Remains at the home of the Ferguson Wood Co., Forbes St at McKee Place, Oakland.  Services will be held on Tuesday, October 6, at 2:30 pm. Post No. 3, GAR and all other members of GAR and friends invited.

The obituary tells us that his wife, Emma, departed earlier, while the gravestone tells us the year.  What is odd is the other name on the stone--  H H HECKLER.  Who the heck is that?

My best guess is that Harry H HECKLER is the brother of Emma.

There was a Emma HECKLER born about 1872 that had a younger brother, Harry living in Skluylkill Co, PA in the 1880 census.  However, there is still a Harry HECKLER living in Pottsville in the 1930 Federal Census with a wife, Cora MILLER, so that pretty much eliminates this line of thought.

What is odd about it is that the Harry H HECKLER found living in Allegheny Co, PA, in the 1910 Federal Census is married to a Laura M. So where is she?

I have yet to determine exactly who the H H HECKLER is on the tombstone.  Obviously, it was important enough for the name to be on the stone.  As there is no death date, I don't know if the body is there as well.  I am curious as to who this HECKLER is among us.........

Ahhh, genealogy.  Just thinking of the puzzles and the Hecklers makes me smile.

1850 Federal Census, Pittsburgh 9th Ward, Allegheny, PA pg 549
1850 Mortality Index
1920 Federal Census, Allegheny, PA
1880 Federal Census, Pottsville, Schuylkill, PA, pg 387
1910 Federal Census, Pittsburgh Ward 13,  Allegheny, PA
Veterans Burial Card from
Grave photo courtesy of JR Jamieson, May 2011

Update:  I was asked if I had thought about the possibility of Mr Heckler being the first husband of Emma.  The thought crossed my mind, but I think there would have been a death date on the stone if that was the case.  I also had found evidence of Mr Heckler's wife being named Louise.  Good idea, though.  Keep 'em coming.

©2011 A S Eldredge

Monday, May 30, 2011

New for Memorial Day: Relive World War I History Thru 1919 Articles

Last month, my genealogy buddy, Lynn B, sought my opinion on whether she should transcribe some World War I newspaper stories.  She sent a sample and I responded with a resounding "yes."

With the assistance of our favorite Rootsweb Web Files Manager, Ellis Michaels, on the Allegheny County PA GenWeb Archives site, these articles are now available for viewing.

The transcription is taken from the 1919 Pittsburg Press.  The article series is A History of Pittsburg and Western Pennsylvania Troops in the War written by John V Hanlon.

I will say my world came to a screeching halt as I read about the battles and the events which described how and where my grandfather was wounded and severely gassed.  After I took a few moments to say a prayer of thanks for his service and that of his fallen doughboy comrades, I eagerly read the other chapters.

In reading the 21 chapters, you will undoubtably gain a new appreciation for the sacrifices made by our World War I veterans.  Relive the joy, the pain, the sorrow and the tragedies of the day.

You can find these wonderful articles here:

Ahh, genealogy.  Read, weep, and take a moment to say your word of thanks to all our veterans, past and present.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 5- Remembering World War I : Victory First

Every day as I read the stories written by Doyle of the daily life of our veterans in France in the fall and winter of 1918, I have to decide which story to use.  They are all so wonderful and serve to bring the old ways of fighting military to mind.

Our doughboys were terrific.  Hope you've been enjoying reading the articles printed almost 100 years ago....

Oct 20, 1918, page 24


Lieut. Lewis Describes a Bayonet Clash – Small Yank Kills Giant Hun.


Washington, Pa., Oct. 19. – Buried alive half an hour in a trench along the Marne River and alive to tell the tale is but one of the thrilling experiences of Lieut. James A. “Pud” Lewis, of Elizabeth, Pa., and former Washington and Jefferson college student, recently returned from the French battle front.

Lieut. Lewis left college in his senior year at the declaration of war in April, 1917, and enlisted as a private with Company H of the old Tenth Regiment, Pennsylvania National Guard. In his company he was promoted to corporal, sergeant and mess sergeant. He was then sent to the officers’ training school, won a second lieutenancy, and was assigned to Company B of the One Hundred and Ninth Infantry, a Philadelphia regiment, with which he has won high honor and promotion to first lieutenancy. He tells a story of a marvelous bayonet fight.

Lieut. Lewis wears the ribbon of the French Croix de Guerre, awarded for valor in action, but modestly declines to wear the medal itself. During the second battle of the Marne his company was sent to take and hold a difficult position. The company became divided in the battle and Lieut. Lewis found himself in command of 92 men, with whom he held the position for two days and two nights without food or water, until relief came. For this feat the French general in command awarded the cherished cross. He also has medals for services with the English and the French and the ribbon indicating participation in the second battle of the Marne when the Hun was thrown back in retreat to Germany.

We’re Fighting A Barbarous People

The 300-members of the Washington and Jefferson Student Army Training Corps assembled in the gymnasium last night to hear Lieut. Lewis drive home the meaning of and reason for military discipline. He told of the atrocities of the Huns which had come before his eyes, and by the valor of the American soldiers.

“We are not fighting merely the German government, we are fighting the German people,” declared Lieut. Lewis. “They are the same uncivilized race that sacked the City of Rome centuries ago and I cannot agree with some of the things I read in the press of this country after meeting them face to face. The race which has pillaged and burned unprotected French and Belgian towns, tortured and murdered innocent children in cold blood and carried young women into slavery with no military advantage accruing, is not to be dealt with as a member of this world’s civilization. And they are not. All these things I saw with my own eyes.”

Lieut. Lewis was in more or less constant touch with the One Hundred and Tenth Infantry, being in the same brigade. July 3 the brigade was billeted 13 miles behind the front line. The Allied high command anticipated a new German drive either July 4 of July 14, the French holiday. The German expected to find his enemy celebrating.

Discipline Prevents Mutiny

Of all this the junior officers were ignorant. The Pennsylvania boys had prepared baseball diamonds and tracks for a big field day on the Fourth. Lieut. Lewis describes what happened.

“About 3 o’clock in the morning, I wakened and heard some one climbing to the top floor of the French home in which Lieut. Warren, my company commander, and I were sleeping. A knock at the door and a voice said, ‘Lieut. Warren, I have orders for you.’

“Those orders were to go to the front immediately with the usual two-day iron rations. The brigade was formed, hiked to the front, skirmished for about three hours, and was ordered back over that same 13 miles. The boys wanted to stay there and fight, and I thought there would be a mutiny in camp. All were tired, restless and talking among themselves. Where was the discipline and obedience of the eight months of training at Camp Hancock.

“Lieut. Warren stepped in front of the company and called ‘Attention.’ Every man clicked his heels together and straightened his tired back. But two words were spoken to those men at that time and they went away quietly when dismissed. Lieut. Warren said ‘VICTORY FIRST.’ Such discipline is not to be found with ray recruits.”

Is Buried By a Shell

Washington boys have written home that July 4 would never be forgotten, but this is the first time the story has been told.

Only of his experiences in being buried alive would Lieut. Lewis speak of himself. His other stories are of his men. The expected German attack came July 14 and the Pennsylvania boys were there to meet it. From that time until August 11 when he was ordered to the United States as an instructor at Camp Logan, Tex., Lieut. Lewis said the Iron Division was under fire.

“I was sitting in a trench,” he related, “telling two of my sergeants of the attack we were about to make, when a shell it a bit too close and caved in the trench. I was bent over, but sufficient air space remained to keep me alive for the half hour it took the boys to dig me out.

“On another occasion I was sitting talking to Lieut. Tom Bridges of Washington, when we were unexpectedly ordered into the fight. Tom and I both had on trench boots and no time to change them. When we got to the firing line I was surprised to find a remarkable concentration of fire in my direction and caught a machine gun bullet in the leg. Then I discovered the boots, which indicated to Fritz I was an officer. I soon got them covered with the wrapped leggings of a man who had fallen. I believe Tom was wounded the same day and for the same reason.”

Sees a Brother Killed

“When the battle started July 14 the boche planes bombed us at will, for there was not an Allied plane to be seen. He would swoop down within 100 years of the ground, tip over and let go one of the ugly black bombs. Our machine guns were our only defense.

“My platoon was within a few hundred yards of the 110th headquarters building when it was bombed by a German plane. It was there that Leonard Whitehill of Washington was killed. I sent one squad of my men to move the men from the debris and learned later that 18 of the 60 in the building were killed. Little did I think at the time that a college fraternity brother had paid the price before my eyes. My platoon was ordered forward immediately.

“We started up a hill one day and not a shot was fired until he had passed the edge of a road which ran around the hill. Then the machine guns broke loose. The road was our only protection, and not much at that. We hung in behind it while other organizations cleaned up the woods at the top. That night there was not a mess pan in my whole platoon that would hold the good old army beef stew the cooks had for us. Those machine gun bullets had been grazing over the backs of my men and had filled their haversacks with holes. We got new mess kits. In fact, whenever we come out of the line we can get everything new from head to foot if we want it.

Beautiful Bayonet Fight

“The tiredest [sic] man I saw in France was ‘Pete’ Redinger, from Washington. I found him one day trudging along, 10 miles away from his company, which he had lost. He slept with me that night and started out bright and early to catch up with his company.

“The best story I can tell, and it must be about the last,” Lieut. Lewis continued, “is of a little hand-to-hand skirmish we had with Fritz and the clever work of the smallest man in my company. It was a bayonet fight and there the American soldier is supreme. My pistol was empty when I saw this powerful six-foot Dutchman making for our 130-pounder. It was David against Goliath. The boy stood in an easy position. His rifle was broken and there was no time to grab another. The German made his deadly bayonet lunge and our boy caught the bayonet with the outside edge of his right hand, throwing the blade past his shoulder. He grabbed the German’s rifle and gave it a couple of little clever twists we learned in camp. The German fell dead on his own bayonet. It was the gamest thing I ever saw.”

Lieut. Lewis said that while he did not see many of the Washington boys he heard always of their various fortunes and tried to keep in touch with them because he started his career with them. He knew nothing more about any of them than has already been learned here. He did not talk of peace, but of getting back to France, to be there to help put the finishing touches on the enemy. His company was composed entirely of Philadelphia men.

This article brings the efforts of my grandpa more to light as he was in the 110th and was wounded.  Was he in the building at the time of the bombing?  I don't know.

Ahh, genealogy.  Remembering our veterans is always in style- so take time to sit, reflect, and then pray for our brave warriors.

Special thanks to Lynn B for her gracious permission to have her transcriptions included here.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Remembering WWI- Thru the Eyes and Words of 1918 Warriors- Day 4

The wonders of our great World War I doughboys continues-

Today is Day 4 of my journey to remember our veterans who have fought for our country.  Memorial Day is just around the corner, so start preparing now for how you will remember our grandpas.

American veterans are just, well, all heroes in my book.

Nov. 14, 1918

Charles J. Doyle
Special Correspondent of The Gazette Times in France


Battle Stories Show Great Achievements of Western Pennsylvanians and West Virginians in Desperate Fighting During Closing Hours of War – Bullet Fails to Stop Determined Preacher.

With The American Expeditionary Forces, Nov. 11 – (Delayed)- Although the armistice which has ended the great war has silenced the guns and stopped the steady push of the American armies and their Allies, it is hard to realize that fact. Especially at night one still listens for the bombardment to commence and thinks in terms of war. One still hears little except battle yarns and incidents, and stirring charge, stubborn advance or study resistance to counter-attack, are what are most talked about. These, too, are the most vivid recollections.

Details are coming out regarding the recent operations of the Three Hundred and Nineteenth and Three Hundred and Twentieth Regiments, splendid young chaps from Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Keeping right up to the dashing (deleted) division on their immediate right, some 5,000 of these boys “jumped off” from the temporary stopping place on a farm along the Somme. Closely following their barrage they swept through the German defense line, captured the town of Imecourt, and gained their objective at Buzaucy.

And these are the boys who only about a year ago were hard at work in the mills and offices, the stores and fields of the old Keystone State, spending their leisure time largely in neighborhood athletics. Their admirable work in this sector, which led to some of the greatest open fighting in which the Yanks have yet participated, was their second great operation. As a result the One Hundred and Sixteenth Brigade, made up of the regiments named and under the command of Brig. Gen. Lloyd M. Brett, was given special mention by the commander of the First Corps.

There were remarkable deeds of daring during this plunging rush over wide rolling fields plowed and pitted with shell holes. The hero of one of them is a real fighting parson, Capt. T. W. Hooper, a Methodist minister from Culpepper, Va. While leading his company, K of the Three Hundred and Nineteenth, a machine gun bullet grazed his neck, inflicting a slight wound. The nervy parson flatly declined even to hesitate in his advance, but kept right up with his men, largely Allegheny and Mercer county Pennsylvanians. Needless to say his boys are devoted to him.

I heard the story – not from him however – when I came up with the regiment resting. I met him in a shell hole taking pot luck with his men when he could easily have been taking his well-earned rest in a safer spot. It was thoroughly typical of the men.

The Gazette Times correspondent spent one night at the headquarters of the Eightieth Division, barely a quarter of a mile back of the artillery line. There was not much sleep during the early part of the night because of the intermittent bombardment and we had just settled down when a vicious barrage was laid down. By 3 o’clock in the morning the ground fairly shook with the fury of the guns and the darkened horizon flared into brilliant flame. The doughboys crouched for three hours under the shelter of the protective fire of the American batteries and then, the two arms co-operating splendidly, the advance started.

By 7 o’clock I saw the first prisoners coming back, the wearied Boches trudging down the road guarded by two proudly grinning Yanks. In less than two hours the improvised cage held several hundred Fritzies, many of whom were openly rejoicing at their good luck in being captured. Before night more than 700 prisoners, including 30 officers, had been reported to the division headquarters.
Those of the boys whose duties took them near the cage did a thriving business in souvenirs. Nearly every Heinie had some souvenir that he was only too ready to “swap.” Bits of chocolate were the favored medium in these trades, the Germans taking them eagerly in exchange for trinkets, pictures, etc.


“Unbeatable and uncomplaining.” That accurately describes the great American doughboy. And he is as generous as he is daring and resourceful. I came up with one company a few evenings ago. They were in open country, getting such shelter as they might in shell holes and a few old dugouts after a victorious drive of three miles, which included a good deal of open field fighting. The Yanks were hungry and cold, but there was no complaining.

Stumbling along with a lieutenant, who was acting as my guide, I met Private Brown. Not so long ago he was a member of a fast independent baseball team at Woodlawn, Pa. Now he is just as good an infantryman, with the same spirit that characterized his former sizzling battles for supremacy on the diamond.

The big field in which we met had been riddled with shells and Jerry was still sending over a good many. Most of the boys were sleeping in shell holes or darkened dugouts, where they were safe enough except for a chance direct hit, but Brown was pacing about the muddy field.

“Why don’t you lie down and get some rest?” the lieutenant asked. “Haven’t you had enough exercise today?”

Brown grinned cheerfully, but replied softly: “I’d rather walk, Sir. I’m tired and hungry and the dugout seems a bit oppressive. I feel better here.”

As it happened I had some chocolate in my bag. It was only a little piece; a baby would have made a mouthful of it. Yet when I have it to him Private Brown promptly broke it in half and wanted me to take one piece, saying:

“Probably you are hungry yourself.”

And he had had nothing to eat for 24 hours, the advance having been so rapid that the boys outran their supplies.

That’s the American doughboy.

Ahh, genealogy.  Remembering our veterans is always in style- so take time to sit, reflect, and then pray for our brave warriors.

Special thanks to Lynn B for her gracious permission to have her transcriptions included here.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Remembering WWI- Thru the Eyes and Words of 1918 Warriors - Part 3

Forget the parade, the President--  lonely boys away from home prefer to find their friends from Pittsburgh!

Today is the third entry in the series of remembering the brave actions of our grandpas through the words of Doyle.  90 plus years later, and the story of World War I continues to captivate.

Dec. 17, 1918

Charles J. Doyle
Special Correspondent of The Gazette Times in France


Members of Three Hundred and Twentieth Infantry, Recommended for Commissions Because of Bravery in Action, Say Absence of Comrades Mars Enjoyment of Paris Festivities.

Paris, Dec. 16. – There is one bunch of Allegheny county doughboys in Paris who are disappointed, although they saw the wonderful spectacle connected with the arrival of President Wilson. They are members of the Three Hundred and Twentieth Infantry who had been detailed to an officers’ training school near here. They are disappointed because they have not yet seen their pals of the old regiment, which, they had been told, were to be detailed to Paris in connection with the President’s stay in the French capita.

The Army orders instructing the Pittsburgh boys to report at the capital did not say when they were to come or exactly what they were to do. There were no soldiers of any description in the party which escorted the President from the railroad station, although thousands of French troops were used as guards along the line of march.

The Western Pennsylvania fighters have all be given new uniforms, shoes and arm decorations and have been assiduously drilled, so they are ready for any event, no matter how pretentious. The regimental officers say they think there will be a review later and are holding the regiment in readiness.

The embryo officers in the vicinity of the city, who secured short leaves of absence to witness the big spectacle, were all up bright and early. By 6 o’clock in the morning they were out hunting for the boys with whom they fought in the severe battles for the Argonne forest. They are all members of the splendid Three Hundred and Twentieth Regiment and, following the first two drives made by that command, were recommended for admission to the training school in preparation for commissions.

I happened to meet up with a party from the training school. Shortly before they had encountered two pals from the Three Hundred and Twentieth, who were going back to join their outfits after recovering from wounds. Fine husky-looking soldiers they were, all of them, and they asked The Gazette Times to convey their wishes for a “Merry Christmas” to their friends back home.

These fellows who made me very welcome were: William Keifer, Iten street, North Side, Pittsburgh; D. C. Hill, Halsey place, North Side, Pittsburgh’ P.V. Speer, Vandergrift; Sabin Boltin, Collins avenue, East End, Pittsburgh; James Palmer, Bellevernon; Charles Ernst, Rial street, East End, Pittsburgh; William Collignan, Michigan avenue, South Hills, Pittsburgh; T. K. Brennan, Hotel Henry, Pittsburgh, and George Costello, Coltart square, Oakland, Pittsburgh.

All these men won distinction during the hard fighting immediately preceding the final actins of the war and were recommended for commissions. It was their behavior under fire that attracted the attention of their superior officers. Although all of them have finished the prescribed training, they told me they would be willing to forfeit their pending commissions if allowed to get back to “the old outfit.” They are lonesome, and want to renew the warm friendships made in the ranks of the Three Hundred and Twentieth, preferring them to military honors. Most of these men were sergeants during the time they were fighting in France.

Charles O. Mebie, a well-known Fayette county resident, whose home is near Uniontown, was one Pennsylvanian whose presence in Paris came to the notice of the public. He disregarded all parade traffic rules in his efforts to find the youthful son of Carl. L. Bemies, a member of the Three Hundred and Twentieth Regimental Band, but has had to postpone the reunion for a few days. Mr. Mebie is on his way to Russia on a special mission for the Y.M.C.A.

It is evident here that the folds back home are reading the special stories in The Gazette Times. A number of clippings have come to the boys of the Three Hundred and Nineteenth and the Three Hundred and Twentieth, and they are not only being passed around among the men, but are being read with interest by the officers.

Ahh, genealogy.  Remembering our veterans is always in style- so take time to sit, reflect, and then pray for our brave warriors.

Special thanks to Lynn B for her gracious permission to have her transcriptions included here.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Remembering WWI- Thru the Eyes and Words of 1918 Warriors - Part 2

What men of valor our grandpas were!

The following is the second in the installment of remembering World War I through the words of Charles J Doyle, Special Gazette Times Correspondent in France.

Nov. 3, 1918

Charles J. Doyle
Special Correspondent of The Gazette Times in France

Pick and Shovel as Well as Bayonet and Gun Help Pennsylvania Boys Win

With the American Expeditionary Forces in France. Nov. 1 – The Western Pennsylvanians of the Twenty-eighth and Eightieth Divisions are winning renown over the entire Allied front by charging the Boche with pick and shovel as well as with bayonet and gun. Skirmish after skirmish and drive after drive they have won literally with these tools as well as with their weapons. The history of their two-fold prowess at Argonne (in the wood and in the four days’ fighting beyond) has already become a classic of the war. Since July they have gone forward 20 times, and the records show that each time they have achieved their own objective.

That is 100 per cent fighting efficiency.

It is the more remarkable because these men were thrust “green” into the very heart of the most violent fighting Yankee soldiers have done in this war.

I saw 500 fellows from Pittsburgh and Allegheny county make one of those famous self-supporting drives at (name deleted by censor) near the Meuse today.

Three hundred of them carried shovels strapped to their backs. The Boche met them with a murderous machine gun fire and then, as they dashed on in spite of it, he split his front, so that half his force ran to the right and half to the left as the Pennsylvanians approached. Straight on to the knoll where his machine guns had been ran the Americans, firing right and left; then as they reached it the riflemen formed a great square about the knoll, and while they poured a merciless hail of bullets and their own machine fire into the Huns at either side, the others unlimbered that battery of picks and shovels and in one-half hour’s time the entire American raiding force had dug itself into the newly won position and was waiting for orders for another forward drive.

A French colonel, standing beside us as we watched, said simply: “That is the way to win war, M’sieu. Valor, the gun and the shovel – the three together – they are invincible.”

Incidentally the military experts have by no means left the Pennsylvanians’ achievements out of their review of the work of the First American Army. Paraphrased that review says: “In a month’s activities the long Argonne siege developed the most violent fighting the Americans have yet seen in France. And in this great drive the Pennsylvania soldiers of the Twenty-eighth and Eightieth won particular renown for their valor and initiative.”

Again in the most recent smash, continues the review, the Eightieth Division machine gunners, composed largely of Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia soldiers, fought magnificently through the dense woods in spite of the most unusually effective Hun defense.

Col. B. M. Gordon, a former Mercer (Pa.) boy with the Three Hundred and Twentieth Regiment, told me that he did not believe it lay in any many to fight with more heroism, intelligence and determination than did the lads of Mercer and Allegheny counties. “They were marvelously effective, especially with the machine guns,” he said. “In the fights where they beat off the counter-attacks of the desperate Germans their work passed beyond all praise.”

The Eighteenth has been especially commended for taking dugouts that were said to be insuperable. Some of them had been held by the Huns four years when the Pennsylvanians routed them out.


Private Ernest Roeck of St. Clair Borough, a member of the Three Hundred and Nineteenth Regiment, discovered his cousin, Karl Potrafke, among the prisoners captured at the end of the third day’s drive out of Argonne. Private Roeck, who had been one of the first over the top and who had made several prisoners on his own account, was detailed at the end of the day to search and take back to the rear some 50 Heinies who had surrendered. Going through the pockets of one of them he came upon some papers that referred to a town in Germany where he knew he had relatives. Questioning disclosed the cousin’s identity. He belonged to the Thirty-second German Division. His captor gave him the first square meal he said he had had in two months.

It may now be said that the Pennsylvanians in the Eightieth Division first went to the front near the famous Dead Man’s Hill.

Ahh, genealogy.  Remembering our veterans is always in style- so take time to sit, reflect, and then pray for our brave warriors.

Special thanks to Lynn B for her gracious permission to have her transcriptions included here.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Monday, May 23, 2011

Remembering WWI- Thru the Eyes and Words of 1918 Warriors - Part 1

As our nation gets ready to celebrate Memorial Day, I think it is most appropriate to remember our grandfathers as they fought for America during World War I.  If we don't remember the sacrifices of our veterans, then we take away what they fought for--  and their actions have preserved our wonderful country.

Our youth must know their stories and remember to thank our veterans, past and present.

Over the next several days, I will be commemorating our World War I veterans in the words of The Gazette Times (in Pittsburgh) Special Correspondent Charles J Doyle.  In 1918 and early 1919, Doyle was in France with our brave soldiers.  In his articles, he wrote of everyday life and battles of the units from Western Pennsylvania.

My genealogy buddy, Lynn B., transcribed these.  Read each and every entry.  Relive the battles, the pain, the suffering, the death, and the joy of these brave soldiers.

And then pray for our veterans, past and present.....

Dec. 2, 1918

Charles J. Doyle
Special Correspondent of The Gazette Times in France


Fighting Cook of Three Hundred Nineteenth Infantry Overjoyed When Told by Gazette Times Correspondent His Pals Came Through War Unscathed. Knoxville Youth Doing More Than His Bit When Stopped by Piece of Shell – Ball Players Act as Ushers in Paris Church.

Paris, Nov. 29. – (Delayed) – It was a curious but thoroughly enjoyable Thanksgiving afternoon that I spent sitting beside the cozy cots in American Base Hospital No. 41, chatting with the sturdy young chaps who are recovering their health and strength there. It is the magnificent Legion of Honor structure, rich in historic lore, at St. Denis, on the outskirts of Paris. The building, more than 600 years old, was formerly the burial place of the French kings. Once a monastery, it was later, under Napoleon, a school for officers’ daughters and is now a mammoth hospital sheltering about 2,500 wounded Yanks.

While wandering through the stately corridors of the ancient monastery in search of the men of the Twenty-eighth Division whom I had heard were being treated there, I was roused from my spell of admiration for the beautiful old building by a cheery hail.

“Hello, Doyle! How are the Three Hundred Nineteenth boys?” came the call.

Peering over a sea of cots I got a glimpse of the laughing face of Private Charles H. Glacken of 443 Brownsville road, Knoxville. Although “Charlie” was carried on the rolls of the regiment as a cook, he “went over the top” with the rest of them, having gotten hold of a rifle somehow, and was certainly doing his bit until hit in the knee by a small piece of high explosive shell.

This was during the early part of the advance and, as the wound was not a very serious one, Glacken was able to make his way back to a first aid station. Later he was brought to Paris for treatment. Now he looks the picture of health. As we talked he lay on his comfortable cot, extremely happy because he had been told that he would be sent back to Pittsburgh soon. He expects to have the full use of his leg in a short time.

The fighting cook of the Three Nineteenth [sic] had only one worry. He was anxious for news of Sergt. Bert Tremellen of Locust street, Mt. Oliver and Sergt. George Hegemelf of Knox avenue, his chums in Company K. I was able to tell him that both came through the hot fighting without a scratch, which was a great relief to him.

One of the The Gazette Times-Chronicle Telegraph soldiers literally beamed when I reached his cot. This young fighter was Thomas Orpy of 1330 Webster avenue, Pittsburgh, and was employed in the mailing room before he went join [sic] the army. He is a member of Company L, One Hundred and Eleventh Infantry, Twenty-eighth Division. His nurse had all sorts of nice things to say of this boy, who was wounded seven weeks before the Argonne forest fighting. Although he had a machine gun bullet in his foot, which required much attention, he displayed rare patience. He is doing well now.

Private Fred Libby, a Johnstown member of Company F, One Hundred and Tenth Infantry, was also in the hospital. He was almost entirely recovered from the effects of a shell wound. He formerly lived on the North Side, Pittsburgh.

Another Western Pennsylvanian I saw was Corp. George McCann of Butler, who was wounded near Verdun. He smiled broadly through his big bandage as he talked to me of the prospect of getting back home. He was wounded five times, but none of the injuries was serious and he is practically well now.
Private Louis McDonald, known about Homewood as an amateur ball player, who served “over there” with an anti aircraft company, was another who will probably soon be able to leave. He was sent to the hospital [unreadable] and was also told that Private Roy Kelly of the West End, Pittsburgh, had been there, but was recently discharged and was probably heading straight for the Steel City. He served with the One Hundred and Ninth Division.

I missed seeing a number of the Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania men because most of those well enough to stand the trip had been taken in trucks into Paris for the big celebration. King George of England and two of his sons were present and took part in the official observance of the day. All Paris had a great day. The splendid cathedral was decorated with French, American and English flags and the service was wonderfully impressive. Cardinal Bourne of Westminster, the principal speaker, touched strongly on the part played by American in bringing the war to a close.

At the Madeleine the mass was opened by the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” on the huge pipe organ to the accompaniment of trumpet blasts. This service was arranged specially for Americans, but the appreciation of the French people was shown by the fact that they stormed the gates at a very early hour and literally took possession of the church.

Andy Noswing of Pittsburgh was in charge of the ushers at Madeleine and among his assistants were Jack Hendrick, manager of the St. Louis Nationals, and Johnny Evers, the famous second baseman. Both are doing Knights of Columbus work in France.

Ahh, genealogy.  Take the time to sit, reflect, and then pray for our brave warriors.

Special thanks to Lynn for her gracious permission to have her transcriptions included here.

©2011 AS Eldredge

GAR Post #3 History from 1894 Article

Last week, I was finally able to definitively determine the death date and the cemetery for William Wiley HUNNEWELL,  the brother of my 2g-grandmother.  With delight in my eyes, a cousin of mine took the date I supplied and found the 1931 obituary in Pittsburgh.

While I knew William had served in the Civil War and had moved to Wisconsin, and later back to Pittsburgh, I was surprised to find his obit made notice of his belonging to the General Alexander Hays GAR Post #3.

I scouted around for information on the post and to see if any records are still in existence.  Perhaps, I can uncover some more interesting tidbits for my family files.  So far, I have found an article from Sept, 1894 in the Pittsburgh Press which provides the following fun facts:

Post #3 was the first post organized in Pennsylvania November 2, 1866, as Post 1.  It became Post 3 after the national GAR was organized.

Charter members:
Capt. D M HOWE
Sergt. William HOWE
Lieut. Joseph L EVANS
Robert D McKEE
Maj Samuel KILGORE

Other names from 1866-1867:
George LAING
Hamlet LOWE

1869 names:
William McMULLIN

Other names:
Crosby GRAY
Homer L McGAW
Joseph B EATON

In 1894, the post reported having 300 members in good standing.

I found the following surviving documentation from the post at the Soldiers & Sailors Museum:

Post 3 – Gen. Alexander Hays Minutes Book 1905 – 1909
Post 3 – Minutes Book 1906 – 1912
Post 3 – Minutes Book 1931 – 1940 with obits
Post 3 – Descriptive Books
Post 3 – Cash Receipts/Dues Journal with Roster 1926 – 1929
Post 3 – Cash Receipts Journal 1909 – 1938
Post 3 – Canceled Checks and Warrants

If you have an interest in looking at these files, Curator Michael Kraus says the records are available for viewing with a few days notice.

Oh, if only I could go----

Ahh, genealogy.  Remembering those who have gone before.....

©2011 AS Eldredge

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Have a Retired Railroad Worker in Your Line?

These records are fabulous.  Check 'em out.

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

Railroad Retirement Board Records Available at the National Archives, Southeast Region/Atlanta

Records from the Railroad Retirement Board are now available at the National Archives, Southeast Region/Atlanta in Morrow.

The board was founded in 1936 and its records include applications that provide a retiree's career history, date and place of birth, parents, spouse and children. These records represent railroad retirees from all over the U.S., not just the Southeast, and were brought to Morrow from the Chicago headquarters of the board.

To have a file pulled for research, you must supply the person's full name, date of birth and, if possible, Social Security number. The records date from the 1930s through the 1960s. Sensitive information on any living person is redacted.

You can read more in an article by Kenneth H. Thomas Jr. in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution web site at

Ahh, genealogy.  Keep on movin' down the line to uncover those elusive clues!

©2011 AS Eldredge

Monday, May 16, 2011

Honoring WWI Pittsburgh Area Veterans

For those of you who follow my genealogy antics, you know I have been the coordinator for a fabulous project in the Pittsburgh area.  A super group of volunteers have banded together to search the old newspapers and pull out the death, marriage, divorce and photos found within.  These entries have been put into indices which can be checked at no cost online.  

Our last death index had over 73000 entries!  This has been accomplished in about 15 months and still the labor of love of history keeps on ticking!  We update the these lists on a regular basis, so there is always a reason to check the lists every month or so.  You  just never know when you will be jumping for joy!

On another note, last December, one of the volunteers, Lynn Beatty, approached me with the idea of pulling the World War I veterans names from the newspapers.  My first thought was this would be so grand since so many of the World War I veterans information has been lost due to fire.  

Since then, Lynn has singlehandedly indexed 85133 entries for the military index.  My buddy, Ellis, graciously added the index to our Allegheny County Death Index page.  Norm even set up a page for our beloved veterans which will take you to the link for the date the name was seen in the newspaper.

So grab a cup of joe and take some time looking at the stories, the happy reunions, the letters, and shed a tear for those who gave their lives for our wonderful country.

Ahh, genealogy. Listen to your heartbeat when your beloved's name is found.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Monday, May 09, 2011

Eek! She's a "Common Scold"!

Sometimes, reading an old newspaper can bring out the giggles.  This morning, this article about a legal case in the 1869 court system really caught my eye.  After reading it, I wonder who this outspoken woman was.  I also have to wonder if that law was ever taken off the book in Pennsylvania.

A Common Scold

Michael Sweeny, a tavern keeper on Gibbon Street, in the Sixth Ward, made information before the Mayor a few days since against Mrs. Elizabeth CARREL, alleging that she was a "common scold."  This is a term applied by the common law to women, who from a propensity and disposition to quarrel with and scold their neighbors and families become a nuisance in the neighborhood in which they resided, and was punishable by fine and imprisonment.

The offense has never been embodied in our criminal code on account of the gallantry, perhaps, of those who revises it, and out of the the respect they had for American women, yet, notwithstanding its omission from the "catalogue of offenses", the courts have decided it to be an indictable offence in this State, as will be seen by reference to the case of the Commonwealth vs, Mole, reported in Second Smith.

In this case it appears from the testimony that there is some grounds for complaint on the part of the prosecutor, and if the conduct of the defendant at the Mayor's office is any evidence, the charge is well funded.  She was held to bail for her appearance at court.

Ahh, genealogy.  Guess this woman should have been more meek?  Can you imagine being labeled a "common scold"? Guess the standards have changed somewhat since then!

The Pittsburgh Gazette, Jan 11, 1869, pg8

©2011 AS Eldredge

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Happy 1919 Homecoming for 66 Wounded Heroes

An old photograph taken in 1919 has long been in my possession.  This picture says so much and for a long time, it told me so little.  One can easily identify a wounded soldier visiting with a woman wearing summer colors.  The background appears to be an institution, perhaps a hospital.  He has his arm casually leaning on the back of the bench.

Just today, more clues have surfaced and I can start to add more pieces to my family puzzle and to the photograph.

CE Simmons enlisted in the draft for World War I June 1917.  He was called to duty and served in Co. C of the 11th Infantry.  This unit was shipped overseas in June 1918 to France and participated in 43 days of combat with 348 wounded.  Charlie was one of the wounded and was returned to the US.

A Pittsburgh Press article dated February 17, 1919, tells us he, along with 65 other wounded soldiers, arrived at the US General Hospital #24 in Parkview Station.  The article says the wounded arrived with the "air of schoolboys on the last day of school" and "were joyful their lives had been spared."

No doubt, they were.

The picture, which I had guessed was taken at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh actually is now confirmed to have been taken at US General Hospital #24.  General Hospital #24 was located in Parkview Station on the north bank of the Allegheny River in the old North Side Home and Allegheny Workhouse about 9 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.  The old abandoned buildings were rented to the government at a nominal fee and the government spent $205,000 in the reconstruction of the buildings.  It opened in October 1918 with 200 beds.  During its tenure before closing in July 1, 1919, the hospital's maximum bed size was 856.

By comparing my photo with the photo of the hospital in the Office of Medical History by the US Army Medical Department, the background matches. The lack of coats and the summer color dress give us the impression the weather was nice.  Adding the history of the General Hospital #24 to the newspaper article, we can now make an educated guess that the photograph was taken between April and June 1919. Was this when the spark sprung between the young people? Was this when they fell in love?

Their marriage took place in May 1920, so there was adequate time for the relationship to fully develop.

I don't know how long he was in the hospital after part of his leg had been removed, but I do know he returned to the business he and his father had started back in 1915.  In 1920, they paid off the loans for the business and cousins had told me he had lived above the store before marrying his fair bride.

Ahh, genealogy.  Sparking on the ole Parkview bench.  Kind of romantic, don't you think?

Domestic United State Military Facilities of the First World War 1917-1919, Robert Swanson, pg 201

©2011 AS Eldredge

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tracing Enslaved Africans

Knowing how hard it can be to trace my ancestors who came to America from Europe, I can imagine the frustration of those who seek their history from Africa.

I ran across this announcement of a new resource for researching those with African origins who were brought to the Americas on slave boats.  Perhaps, this will turn out to be helpful to those who are seeking their family history and roots from that area and timeframe.

New Website to Trace Origins of Enslaved Africans

/PRNewswire/ -- Little is known of the ancestry of Africans pulled into the trans-Atlantic slave trade. A new website, launched at Emory University this week, aims to change that. The African-Origins ( website provides a rare glimpse of the identities of Africans aboard early nineteenth-century slaving vessels, and through this information, the possibility of tracing the origins of millions of other Africans forcibly transported to the Americas. Public participation will be critical to piecing together this missing history.

Visitors to African-Origins can search an online database of Africans liberated from slaving vessels, with such details as gender, age, African port of departure, and, most importantly, an African name. Because names used within African languages and social groups have remained fairly consistent over the last two centuries, the thousands of names listed in this database are clues to the linguistic and ethnic origins of the Africans on board these vessels.

Scholars are now looking for help in identifying the modern counterparts of these names and the languages and ethnicities with which they are likely associated. Through the African-Origins website, those with knowledge of African languages and cultural naming practices can suggest these links. By taking a few minutes to search and listen for familiar names and contribute a modern counterpart, language, and ethnic group, members of the public can help identify the language, ethnic and geographic origins of people listed in these registers, and subsequently the likely origins of millions of other unnamed Africans enslaved during this period.

With these insights, scholars serving as editors of the database can consider the range of possible languages and groups affiliated with a name alongside historical research of peoples' locations and movements across Africa. As contributions are received and analyzed, new information will be added to the African-Origins database on the likely language and ethnicity of each individual. Visitors to the site will eventually be able to search for Africans by linguistic group and view maps of the historical locations of people pulled into the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

To find out more about the African Origins project or contact the project team, visit or email


Ahh, genealogy.  What trips our ancestors took!

©2011 AS Eldredge

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: 1862 "War Meeting" for the Co. D PA 149th Boys

With the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War this week, I've really thought about the families on both sides of the proverbial Mason-Dixon line and the costs the war brought to each.

History tells us of the organization of Co. D of the PA 149th Volunteers at the Hill Church in Robinson's Run on August 22, 1862.  Among those who volunteered and were original members of the group were several kin and kissing kin of mine, including Captain James GLENN (1824-1901).

This seems like the perfect time to share some more tidbits about cousin James.

In the Diary of Hannah Glenn SNODGRASS (my 2g aunt), she tells us that on August 19, 1862, her sister, Maggie, and Hannah's future husband, Addison Henry SIMMONS, and Hannah all ..

(Note: spelling and punctuation are the same as found in the diary)

"went to a war meeting down to Scotts. The speakers the Reverands J Y McCartney R McPherson Mr Calhoun Capt McElwain J Snodgrass & two others
Wed the 20 we sewed & put up tomatoes
Thursday the 21 we took the ear & plumbs aft put up some plumbs and sewed & Capt J Gleen (GLENN) was here for tea 
Friday 22 Capt G in the morning"....

Captain GLENN was the first cousin of Hannah, and likely came to tea as he was going to be leaving for war that night.  J SNODGRASS was also the cousin of Hannah.  Two of the Reverends mentioned were from the Mansfield Presbyterian Church and Mansfield UP Church.

According to Hannah's words,  Reverend McCartney chose his text on the 24th as Psalm 31 verse 19 which states, "How great is Thy goodness, Which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee, Which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, Before the sons of men!".  We can only imagine the good Reverend somehow used that verse for the war talk from the pulpit.

The company did leave for Harrisburg on the evening of August 22, 1862, and arrived in Washington, DC on August 31, 1862.  To see a letter written by company member (and cousin of Glenn) Frank C DORRINGTON, click on 1863 Civil War Letter from a Member of the PA 149th Bucktails written earlier this week.

The following item I placed in my genealogy files without documenting the source!  How could I have done that?  So, please forgive me.  I acknowledge I didn't write this summary although I suspect it was a local newspaper of the time and I am still looking for the source.  When I find it, it will be properly noted.

Civil War Veterans Memorial
Memorial for Deceased Veterans
G.A.R. Men Honor Their Dead Comrades in a Service at the First Baptist Church Records and Singing on Program

The First Baptist church was filled with old soldiers and their friends, and relatives of deceased members of Captain Thomas Espy Post No. 153 Grand Army of the Republic, last Sabbath afternoon. Perhaps never before in Carnegie have there been held a more impressive service then this, the service to the memory of the twenty-one members who have passed away in the past seven years. The McKees Rocks Veterans Association was well represented. Rev. C. C. Cowgill, pastor of the First Christian church, read the Scripture lesson and Rev. J. H. Duff D.D., pastor of the First Presbyterian church, made the opening prayer. The pulpit was draped with the American Flag, and the symbols of the mourning, and on the arrival of the Post their half-masted flags were placed upon the platform. Col. Wm J. Glenn announced the program. The choir, with Miss Ella Perrin at the organ, sang several selections. Adjutant W. H. H. Lea read the record of each of the twentyone comrades who had died, and after each one the bugle call and taps were sounded. Rev. J. A. Snodgrass, the pastor of the church and a member of Espy Post delivered an address. Rev. Snodgrass spoke of the great dept which the younger generation owes to the Union soldiers of the Civil War. In the performance of their duty they assured to us the blessings of prosperity which we now enjoy. He called attention to the act that the government pension list, which up until last year grew steadily larger, had commenced to diminish, and last year was smaller then the year pre- ceding. There is only one cause for this, said he, the old soldiers are passing from our midst. The service closed by the congregation singing the doxology. Rev. Cow- gill pronounced the benediction.

*GLENN, James Captain James Glenn, who organized Company D, was a military man before the War, having entered the State service under the old Militia Laws, as Second Lieutenant in the Pennsylvania Blues, an independent Allegheny County Military Company. In this organization he was promoted to First Lieutenant and Captain; his Company being a good organization, and well known under the old system. He was mustered into the Volunteer Service for the Civil War as Captain of Company D, 149th Pa. Volunteers, August 22, 1862, and promoted to Major, April 22, 1864, and to Lieutenant Colonel January 08, 1865. After the Regiment joined the Army of the Potomac it was assigned to the Third Division, First Army Corps, and Captain Glenn was Provost Marshal of the Division. He served in this capacity until he was promoted to Major. Captain Glenn was placed in command of the Regiment after the fight at Gettysburg, July 01, 1863 the Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel and Major being disabled by wounds - and had charge of the Regiment through the second and third days of the battle, and up to July 6th, when Major Irvin returned and took command. After the battle of Dabney's Mills, February 07, 1865, the Regiment was ordered to Elmira, N.Y., for special duty, and Lieut. Col. Glenn was there placed on detailed court martial service. He was mustered out of the service August 22, 1865. After the war Captain Glenn was elected Major in the 14th Regiment, N.G.P., September 01, 1875; promoted to Lieutenant Colonel January 20, 1877, and to Colonel in January, 1882. After serving a term as Colonel he retired roll February 25, 1888. Captain Glenn was well known in the community in which he lived, had no difficulty in securing the requisite number of men to organize a Company for the Civil War, and with the assistance of his Lieutenants and First Sergeant, the Company soon became proficient in drill and discipline. During his service he became known as a fighting officer,being frequently assigned to other commands when severe fighting was expected. He was almost reckless in his bravery. It was a common remark among the boys that "the Captain didn't know when he was licked" and after his attempt to rally half a dozen members of his Company on the retreat from Seminary Hill at Gettysburg, to stop the advance of a division of Lee's Army, followed by his service in the Wilderness and other campaigns, the mention of his name was sure to recall recollection of his bravery and soldierly qualities. He served his entire term of service without sickness or wounds, and was engaged in every march, skirmish or battle in which the Regiment participated. After the war he engaged in the grain and feed business and made his home with his sister, Mrs. Robb, of Glendale, Allegheny Co., Pa., where he lived, honored and respected by the entire community and kindly remembered by the surviving members of his old company. He died August 23, 1902, and was buried by his surviving comrades in the cemetery at Mt. Lebanon, Allegheny Co., Pa.

More on Captn James GLENN:

*General History of Company D, 149th Pennsylvania Volunteers: and Personal Sketches of the Members, compiled by John W. Nesbit. pg 52, 1908.

 "Captain James Glenn's Sword and Private J. Marshall Hill's Enfield in the Fight for the Lutheran Cemetery" by Wiley Sword Gettysburg, Jan. 1, 1993, Issue No. 8.

"Hannah Glenn Snodgrass Diary 1862-1863" Transcribed by Ann S Eldredge, Theresa Paxton and John Addison Williams, Jr,  Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Quarterly, 32:3 (2006).

Ahh, genealogy. Writing about the past brings warm hugs from beyond on a sunny day.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Campfires of The Boys of '61 in 1894

I never thought much about the sheer numbers of American men who wore either the Blue or the Grey back during the Civil War.  All I thought of while researching my genealogy roots is why did they have to be injured or die.  What about their poor widows?  And the children they left behind as they marched off to fight for their beliefs.

It also really didn't occur to me why I couldn't find my Yanks in the GAR post near the little town in which so many lived.

Today, I stumbled across a souvenir edition of the Pittsburgh Press from September 9, 1894.  The number of stories, posts, and regimental histories combined with poetry and drawings is enough to have me reading for days.  The men had all come to Pittsburgh for a grand reunion from many states.  There's ton of history and names in these pages.

How many of my loving names which are only a memory will I find?

How many families suffered from the war?  How many hearts were broken?

I submit to you the poem "For Freedom Died" found on pg 33 with the notation it was from the New York Evening Post.

"Forward!" was the word when day
Dawned upon the armed array.

"Fallen!" was the word when night
Closed upon the field of fight.

"Hurt, my boy?" "Oh, no! Not much!"
"Only got a little touch!"

"Forward!" was the word that flashed
Homeward, when the cannon crashed.

"Missing!" was the word sent home
When the shades of night had come.

"Fallen?"  "Yes; he fell, they say,
In the fiercest of the fray!"

"Died last night!" the message said,
Thus the morrow's papers read.

One young heart that heard the word,
Fluttered like a wounded bird.

One was broken! Bowed her head
"Mother! Mother! Mother's dead!"

Two green graves we'll deck to day,
Son's and mother's side by side,
None will dare to tell us "Nay!"
Both for right and freedom died.

While we honor him who fell
In the fiercest of the fray,
We will honor her as well
Lying by his side today.

Let the flowers forever fair,
Bloom above our fallen braves,
While the angels guard them there,
Glory lingers o'er their graves.

Long ago one sweet soul
Entered her Gethsemane,
Death to her the greatest goal,
As it must to many be!

But life lingers   Oh! so long!
And the years so weary grow!
Tears have choked her heart's sweet song,
Dimmed those eyes that used to glow!

Oh! the bleeding, broken hearts,
Living long their lingering death,
Pierced by countless cruel darts,
Smothered sobs beneath each breath.

Comrades! Call the roll again!
Write their name on glory's page!
Whose who bore the grief and pain,
Fiercer far than battle's rage!

When they lie there side by side,
Dearer to him than his life,
Mother, sister, sweetheart, bride,
Or his dear, devoted wife.

And you deck his grave again,
Write her name- but not beneath!
By her agony and pain
Crown her grave with fairest wreath!

Angels called the roll again,
Wrote her name above the stars
For her patient faith in pain,
Deeper far than battle scars.

Three green graves we deck today,
This the third, where lies his bride-
None will dare to tell us "Nay!"
For these three for freedom died!

Take some time to dig through these pages.  It's a tear jerker you don't want to miss.

Oh- and here's a picture of cousin William James GLENN.  You can read more about him on an earlier blog: I am Simply a Survivor.

Below the drawing of GLENN is William H H LEA, the brother of my 2g-uncle, Cassius LEA.


Pittsburgh Press

Sept 9, 1894

Tip of the hat to cousin David for sending me to this newspaper date to find the drawing of WJ GLENN.

Ahh, genealogy.  Tis grand to find the family history so intertwined with that of our great country.  Tis humbling to know my kin have fought for this country since its beginning.  My thoughts and prayers go to all veterans and the ones they leave behind.  Thank you.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: What a Carolina Coward in the Civil War

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the first shots being fired at Fort Sumter and the true fighting of the Civil War.  With all eyes on Charleston as the single beam over Fort Sumter split into two this morning, I find myself thinking of Lt Colonel Asbury COWARD, the man my grandfather called "Uncle Asbury".

This man who fought with Robert E Lee; the man who lost everything during the Civil War; the man who was a military man and educator;  his story is fascinating.  His memoirs of the Civil War bring tears to my eyes when I read it.  The pain, the suffering, the glories and the final defeat.  It's all there in his words.

I know Asbury was at the battle of Chickamauga.  I wonder if he was there when his cousin, my 2g grandpa was gravely wounded. 

In the book of his memoirs,  he tells how he sat with his brother as he died after being wounded.  He tells of the loss of his children.  As he rides back into South Carolina after being with Lee at the surrender, he felt his spirits rise.  He had come from nothing.  He made something.  He lost it all.  He would have it again.

Yes, indeed, Asbury.  You did.

Coward by name, not by nature
October 18, 2006

I was on another manhunt.

This time, I was furiously searching for those elusive Cowards on my maternal side. I had just returned home from a trip to Charleston, where I spent a full day digging and sneezing my way through their main library files. A kind older employee named Henry in the South Carolina Room took pity on my wide-eyed look of confusion as I asked where to find any information I could. He pitied me so much that he took me by the elbow and spent several hours at my side and explained some of the databases to me. By the way, I strongly encourage you to find such a kind soul the first time you really dig deep in a large library. With his assistance, I was able to locate the units of several of my kinsmen from the Civil War as well as several birth and death records from the area. This in itself is rather amazing as South Carolina was rather late in joining everyone else in requiring vital statistics. Henry was amazed when he found out that I was kin to Lt. Col. Asbury Coward.

Lt. Col. Asbury Coward lost so much during the War of Northern Aggression. He lost most of his family, several children, and all of his money. Not so uncommon for the time. What he did after the war deserves remembering. Lt. Col. Asbury Coward was born in 1834 on Quenby Plantation outside of Charleston, SC. His parents were Jesse Coward and Keziah Anne Dubois. Asbury graduated from the Citadel at the age of 19 in 1854 and was a professor by 1860. He was a cofounder along with Brigadier General Micah Jenkins of the King's Mountain Military School in the poverty stricken area of York Co, SC. General Jenkins was subsequently killed in the Civil War.

On Christmas Day in 1856, he married Eliza Corbet Larimore Blum, the youngest daughter of John A Blum. Together they had several children who died either as infants or as children.

When the disagreement between the North and South raged into war, he joined the 5th Regiment, SCV, and served under General Robert E Lee at Bull's Run. Asbury witnessed the shot that mortally wounded his younger brother, Jesse James Coward, as he was helping another fallen soldier. Asbury sat with his brother and prayed earnestly. After Jesse's death at age 25, Asbury arranged for a coffin and sent his slave, Charles, to accompany his brother's body home. Col. Coward was at Appomattox during Lee's surrender to Grant. His last commendation by General Longstreet, which is found in the book The South Carolinians, had a handwritten postscript by General Lee of "I concur in the commendation bestowed on Colonel Coward by General Longstreet. I have always considered him one of the best officers of this Army."

After the war was over, Asbury made his way back home to South Carolina. His memoirs tell us that as he crossed over into South Carolina amid all of the destruction and utter ruin, his spirits soared. He was back home, back to a new beginning, and had the faith he would triumph again. And he did. Asbury returned to his school and ran it for 20 years after the war. His former slave, Charles, elected to remain with Asbury as a cook for the school. Asbury served as SC State Superintendent for Education from 1884-1886, before becoming the Superintendent of the Citadel in 1890. His portrait hangs at the Citadel and the dining hall is named in his memory. Lt. Colonel Asbury Coward died in 1925 and is buried at Rock Hill, SC, next to his brother.Keep digging up those roots. You never know where the next clue will take you.

Lt. Colonel Asbury Coward, the man my mother called "Old Uncle", a true American giant. Asbury Coward, my cousin. The man who exemplifies the family motto- Coward by name, not by nature. Indeed.

Ahh, genealogy. April 12, a day when so many families were torn apart 150 years ago. May we honor all our heroes, past, present and future.

Photo Source:

©2011 AS Eldredge