Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Soldier Story: Private William Straw, Musician/Fifer, Company K, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry

I always enjoy seeing a 'new' face of the 48th Pennsylvania, an image, that is, one of its soldiers I had never before seen, and thanks to Norman Gasbarro at Civil War Blog and to the descendants of a 48th soldier who posted photographs of him on a public ancestry.com family tree, I recently got to see a several images of  Private William Straw of Company K, and discover much more about him. 

Private William Straw
Company K, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry

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According to the information posted by his descendants, William Straw was born on October 12, 1841, in Packington, Leicestershire, England, the son of John and Frances Straw. Sometime either in 1847 or 1849, when William was either six or eight years of age, he and his mother immigrated to the United States, though there is some thought that she died on board the ship on their way to America. If this was the case, then it is likely young William Straw was met by and raised in the home of a relative who had already been residing in the United States. By 1860, he was residing in Llewellyn, in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and his occupation was that of a blacksmith. On April 22, 1861, ten days following the outbreak of civil war, nineteen-year-old William Straw was mustered into service as a private in Company G, 6th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, a three-month regiment that was mustered out of service on July 27, 1861. After his ninety-day enlistment in the 6th PA, Straw volunteered once more and on October 1, 1861, was once more mustered into service, this time as a private in Company K, 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He was mustered in and would serve as a company musician, playing the fife. He was almost twenty years old, stood 5'3 1/4" in height, and was described as having a Light Complexion, Dark Eyes, and Light Hair. Straw served in the regiment for the duration of the conflict, having reenlisted for another "three-year or the course of the war" term in the winter of '64-'64. Mustered out when the regiment was disbanded on July 27, 1865, Straw returned to Schuylkill County and just a few month later, on October 1, married Mary Elizabeth Reed in Pottsville. Together, the couple had ten children over the next nineteen years though, sadly, two--a daughter, Minnie, and a daughter Dollie--would die in early childhood. The Straw family moved first to Tremont, then to Williamstown, and finally, to Philadelphia by 1894. 

William Straw died at age 64 from the effects of a stroke on April 5, 1906, and was buried at the Hillside Cemetery, Montgomery, PA. 

Straw and his Wife, Mary, touring Devil's Den at the Gettysburg Battlefield

Post-War Image of Private William Straw

The Grave of William Straw
Hillside Cemetery, Montgomery, Pennsylvania

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My thanks again go to Norman Gasbarro for locating this image of Private/Musician William Straw and posting about it on his website as well as to Straw's descendants who made these photographs and the information about Straw's life public on ancestry.com. 

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