(Pottsville Republican, 9/27/1887)
(Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives)
I was only at Saint Luke's Episcopal Graveyard in Germantown, Pennsylvania, once, and this was many, many years ago.
I was there to locate the grave of George Washington Gowen, the 48th Pennsylvania's fourth commanding officer, following James Nagle, Joshua Sigfried, and Henry Pleasants.
I thought I located it. . .but wasn't entirely sure. I found a plot for the "Gowen" family, at least, and I thought I saw the headstone for George but, again, I could not be certain.
Surely, I thought, for someone born into a very prominent family and for a colonel who was killed in action leading his regiment into battle, George Gowen would have a large and easily recognizable headstone. But such was not the case.
As it turns out, his grave marker had fallen into great disrepair and was hardly recognizable.
This is why I was so happy, several weeks ago, to see that Frank Jastrzembski, founder of Shrouded Veterans, and working with Saint Luke's Episcopal Church in Germantown, saw to it that Colonel Gowen get a new headstone.
Although it does not happen all too often, every now and then, I get to see a "new" face of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. A few weeks ago, was one of those "every now and then" moments. Checking my email, I was happy to see an email from a Great-Great-Great Grandson of Henry W. Krater, a corporal who served for the duration of the conflict in Company I. Krater was a lifelong resident of my small hometown of Orwigsburg. Because of this, and in addition to knowing his name from the regimental rosters, I many-a-time visited his gravesite in St. John's Church Cemetery, just a few blocks away from the house where I grew up. And now, after so many years, I got to see photographs of the man taken during and after the Civil War, to finally put a face to the name.
|Corporal Henry W. Krater|
Company I, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry
(Courtesy of Mr. Mike Wynosky)
|Post-War Image of Henry W. Krater|
(Courtesy of Mike Wynosky)
|The Grave of Henry W. Krater (left) and his wife, Catherine,|
who preceded him in death by eleven years.
St. John's Cemetery, Orwigsburg
(Image from findagrave.com)
|Colorized Image of Major Joseph Gilmour|
In addition to animating historic photographs, My Heritage also colorizes images from the past. For several years now, adding color to old black-and-white or sepia-toned Civil War CDVs or tintypes has become increasingly ever more popular. While the verdict on this technology seems evenly split between those who like it and those who do not, I thought I would create an account and upload some photographs of 48th Pennsylvania soldiers from my collection to better see what these soldiers may have looked like in person. I also uploaded a photograph of Nicholas "Nick" Biddle of Pottsville, who, when marching off to war with the First Defenders in April 1861, shed some of the first blood of the American Civil War.
When done well, colorizing historic photographs can be a powerful teaching tool in that it can better humanize, if you will, people from the past. There are many who simply cannot envision past events in anything other than black-and-white or sepia tones. When not done well, however,. . .they are simply not done well.
I uploaded many images of 48th Pennsylvania soldiers; not all of them "worked" in the colorization process. But some did. The colorized images below I found compelling, especially the ones of Gilmour, Maidenfort, and Biddle. The stories of several of these soldiers can be found by clicking on their names.
Anyway, here they are for your perusal. . .
What are your thoughts on these?
(The historic images are either from the Library of Congress or my personal collection; the colorized images were colorized by www.myheritage.com)
Brigadier General James Nagle
Organizer and First Commander, 48th PA
|The Grave of Joseph Gilmour|
Major, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry
Presbyterian Cemetery, Pottsville
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It is easily one of my favorite places. . .
A quiet, hillside cemetery in Pottsville, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.I have walked the uneven and ascending ground there among the silent, and in some places broken stones many a time. And to this day, whenever I make a visit to Schuylkill County to spend some time with my family, I try my best to make a stop at this historic graveyard, if only for a few minutes.
Once inside the Presbyterian Cemetery at Tenth and Howard Streets in Pottsville, one is simply surrounded by history; Civil War history in particular. And once inside, one can imagine this as once a beautiful, Civil War-era graveyard. With a little imagination, one can see the horse-drawn hearses entering the gates, with mourners dressed in black lined along the brick walkways as the community turned out to honor its dead. You might even imagine the military salutes fired over some of the graves.
Buried within the Presbyterian Cemetery are some of Schuylkill County's most noteworthy Civil War heroes. Brigadier General James Nagle is laid to rest there. In 1842, Nagle organized the Washington Artillerists, a militia company he would captain during the War with Mexico from 1846-1848. During the American Civil War, Nagle raised and commanded no less than four regiments of Pennsylvania Volunteers, including the famed 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. Nagle also commanded a brigade in the thickest of the fights at 2nd Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. The strain for this service took a toll and in August 1866, Nagle died at the age of 44. The funeral held for him at the Presbyterian Cemetery was one of the largest ever witnessed in the city of Pottsville.
|The Grave of General James Nagle|
Robert Ramsey, who served on the staff of Major General George Thomas--the "Rock" of Chickamauga--is also interred in the Presbyterian Cemetery. Ramsey served faithfully and well throughout the conflict, but died of laryngeal phthsis at the much-too-young age of 38 in 1876.
Medal of Honor recipient Jacob Frick, Colonel of the 129th Pennsylvania Infantry, who in late June 1863 ordered the burning of the Wrightsville Bridge during the Gettysburg Campaign, is laid to rest in the Presbyterian Cemetery, as are the remains of Major Lewis Martin, of the 96th Pennsylvania, and Joseph Gilmour, of the 48th Pennsylvania, both of whom died in combat during the Civil War; the former during the Battle of Crampton's Gap, and the latter at Armstrong Farm, near Cold Harbor, Virginia.
There are so many more stories to tell of those interred in the Presbyterian Cemetery, but the pressing story of today is the condition of the cemetery. Sadly, it has fallen into disrepair, despite the best efforts of Presbyterian Church leaders and members. And now, they are calling for help. Money is needed to help in the maintenance and upkeep of the Cemetery, especially $1,500.00 that is needed to remove a dead tree.
I think we can easily raise that much. . . In fact, I think we can do so much more!
Let's show that we still care and that we still remember and honor those who served. Let us work together to raise the money needed, and then some. As Tom Shay, a friend of mine and fellow Schuylkill County Civil War historian, so eloquently explained: "You can tell a lot about a community by how they treat their dead, how well they upkeep their cemeteries, and respect the ground on which loved ones stood and mourned the deceased. The care and preservation of the Presbyterian Cemetery is an ongoing challenge to ensure its continuous upkeep and protection. We are always seeking help from caring people who realize the wonderful history that is contained in the stories that the stones can tell."
The tree that needs to be removed. . .
I usually check my email just once a day, almost always early in the morning. While most days the only messages I receive are from stores or companies offering some kind of special savings deal, every now and then I am pleasantly surprised to discover an email from a descendant of a soldier who served in the 48th Pennsylvania. Even better is when they share an image of their soldier-ancestor. This happened just a few days ago when I received a message from a descendant of Corporal Richard C. Ryan, of Company C, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry.
This is his story. Sadly, it had a tragic ending.
Richard C. Ryan was born in Ireland on May 10, 1842. Upon immigrating to the United States--and like many others who came from Ireland--young Ryan found work mining coal in Schuylkill County. He was not quite twenty-two years old when, on March 1, 1864, he was mustered into the ranks of Company C, 48th Pennsylvania, taking up arms in defense of his adopted country. In height, he stood 5'6 1/2"; had a "Dark" Complexion, with grey eyes and black hair. Ryan served with the 48th throughout the hard fighting of 1864; from the tangled chaos of the Wilderness to the sun baked trenches of Petersburg. It is likely that because of his background as an experienced miner he took part in the tunneling of the Petersburg Mine, an endeavor performed not by all the soldiers in the 48th, but only by those who were experienced coal miners. Ryan must have impressed his superiors, for on May 21, 1865, he was promoted from private to corporal. Honorably mustered out of service when the regiment disbanded on July 17, 1865, Corporal Richard Ryan returned home.
During the post-war years, Ryan took up residence in the borough of Mount Carmel in Northumberland County. There, he was actively involved in veterans' affairs and in local politics. He also married and in the early 1880s, his wife Mary gave birth to at least three children: Catherine (b. 1880); Anna May (b. 1882); and Richard (b. 1884).
Sadly, these children would grow up without their father.
Not known are the reasons why he did it, but on February 24, 1885, Richard Ryan--this Civil War veteran, active in local affairs, and young father of three--took his own life. He was only 42 years old.
As reported in the local papers, Ryan drank five drachms of laudanum. He lingered for several hours before finally succumbing to the lethal overdose of this opiate that was widely prescribed, provided, and used by Civil War soldiers and veterans. His remains were laid to rest in Saint Mary's Cemetery, Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania.
*Thank you to Lori Ryan for sharing the image of her Civil War ancestor and for allowing me to tell his story.