Fred (Frederick Charles) Brenckman.

History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, online

. (page 8 of 44)
Online LibraryFred (Frederick Charles) BrenckmanHistory of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, → online text (page 8 of 44)
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During the period which intervened between the
close of the war with Mexico and the breaking out of
the Eebellion, military organizations were formed in
various parts of the county.

Beaver Meadow and vicinity was represented by the
Lafayette Guards, uniformed in the picturesque garb
of the soldiers of 1812.

At Summit Hill there was a well-drilled and excel-
lently equipped company known as the Carbon Guards,
first commanded by Captain Wintersteen and later by
Captain Connor. They wore the regular light blue
roundabout uniform of the United States Army of that

Mauch Chunk had several companies.

The Cleaver Artillerists derived their name from
their captain, Oliver O. Cleaver. They, too, wore the
regular blue of the United States Army. Subsequently
this company was named the Anderson Grays, new
uniforms were adopted, and Eli T. Connor was chosen

Patrick F. Sharkey commanded the Hibernian
Guards, or the Irish Infantry, uniformed similarly to
the Lafayette Guards. Dennis McGee, the lieutenant
of this organization, during the war became a captain
in the Bucktail Rifles.

The German Jaegers had John Glosser for their cap-
tain. Adam Rose and Charles Bittner served as lieu-
tenants. These were riflemen, having uniforms of dark


Mahoning township and Lehighton had the Scott
Rifles, wearing dark blue uniforms, and being com-
manded by Christian Freeby.

In addition to those which have already been men-
tioned, there was a company of cavalrymen, prin-
cipally from the Towamensings, commanded by John

It will be seen from this that Carbon county was
well prepared to discharge her proportionate share of
the duty devolving upon the loyal portion of the nation
when the South resolved upon extending and per-
petuating the iniquitous institution of human slavery,
and lending willing ear to the traitorous and fallacious
doctrine of her leaders concerning States ' Rights, took
the fateful and momentous step of seceding from the

The intelligence that Fort Sumpter had been fired
upon spread through the country like a flame of fire.
Two days after Major Anderson's surrender, Lincoln
issued a call for seventy-five thousand volunteers to
serve three months in the overthrow of the movement
of secession.

The president's proclamation was greeted through-
out Carbon county, as in every other loyal section of
the country, with one great throe of patriotism. Vol-
unteers in squads immediately began to pour into
Mauch Chunk, which soon presented the appearance of
a military encampment rather than a quiet mart of
business. The people threw aside their ordinary vo-
cations, thronged the streets and besieged the tele-
graph offices for news, while the towering mountains
re-echoed the strains of martial music.

In the excitement of the moment, when hundreds
were ready to follow, they cast about them for a leader.
Eli T. Connor, then a young man of twenty-nine, com-


manding the Anderson Grays, was acknowledged to
be the man for the occasion, and to him the masses
looked for guidance. Opening a recruiting office, he,
in twenty-fours hours, enlisted three full companies of
the best young men of the county.

On Sunday, April 22, 1861, final preparations were
made by the troops for their departure for Harris-
burg early the next morning.

After parading the streets of the town, they drew
up before the American Hotel, where they were pre-
sented with a handsome flag, made by the patriotic
women of Mauch Chunk. The address of presenta-
tion was made from the balcony by Charles Albright,
who himself later entered the service and rose to the
rank of brigadier general John D. Bertolette, then a
lieutenant, responded in behalf of the men. He subse-
quently became a colonel, and was noted for his brave
and soldier-like conduct.

These three companies were attached to the Sixth
Kegiment, commanded by Colonel James Nagel, of
Pottsville. They saw service at Harper's Ferry and
on the Upper Potomac. Being discharged at the ex-
piration of three months, many of the men re-enlisted
for three years, or during the continuance of the war.

Three weeks after the departure of the first troops
from Carbon county, another company was recruited
and sent to Harrisburg. These men were intended for
the three months' service, but on reaching their des-
tination they were informed that no more troops would
be accepted for a shorter term than three years. Sub-
scribing to this condition, the company became the first
three years' organization to reach the state capital.

The company became a part of the famous ''Buck-
tail Rifles," which command rendered illustrious serv-
ices in the Seven Davs' battle on the Peninsula, at Bull


Eun, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg,
Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and all through the long
struggle from the Wilderness to the front of Peters-
burg and Richmond.

Pennsylvania's quota under the president's first
call was fourteen thousand men. Within ten days
from the date of this proclamation. Camp Curtin had
been established at Harrisburg, and nearly twenty-six
thousand soldiers, fully armed and equipped and in
perfect organization, were in the field. These were
principally militiamen, who were supplied with arms
and accoutrements at their homes, being thoroughly
drilled in the military tactics of the day.

The crisis having come, the public men of Pennsyl-
vania assumed the advance of the most zealous spirits
of the nation, urging the government to organize pow-
erful armies from among the loyal men who were freely
offering their services, and thus crush the rebellion
at a single blow.

Simon Cameron, of this state, then secretary of
war, recommended the raising of an army of five hun-
dred thousand men, and the use of every element of
strength within the reach of the government, in order
to speedily overthrow the power of those who sought
to dismember the Union.

Thaddeus Stevens was even more aggressive than
Cameron, since he advocated the organization of an
army of a million men, the liberating of the slaves, and
inviting them to fight for their own freedom.

Governor Curtin, the greatest of all the war gov-
ernors, was not only cordially in harmony with these
views, but from first to last grandly supported the
cause of the Union and played the part of a loving
father toward Pennsylvania's sons in the field.


In honor of these statesmen it must be said that,
after many Federal reverses, their policy was at last
adopted by the national government.

The military spirit pervaded Carbon county from
the beginning of the war until its close.

Upon the expiration of the three months' campaign
this county raised two companies for the Twenty-
eighth Regiment ; four for the Eighty-first ; one for the
Sixty-seventh; one for the Fourth Pennsylvania Cav-
alry; one for the Eleventh Regiment, and portions of
companies for the Eleventh Infantry, the Eleventh Cav-
alry, and the Fifty-third Regiment. Besides these,
about a company were scattered in various other regi-

The Eighty-first Regiment was recruited by James
Miller and Eli T. Connor. As has just been shown, it
was composed largely of Carbon county men, and its
gallantry and hard service earned for it the right to
be classed among the best of the "fighting regiments"
of the Union army.

Miller, who so bravely led the Stockton Artillerists
during the Mexican war, was commissioned as its
colonel. He fell at the battle of Fair Oaks, the first
engagement in which his regiment participated. But
the spirit which he had instilled into his men lived after
him, and was an important factor in their subsequent
excellent conduct.

Upon the fall of Miller, Connor was placed in com-
mand. He led the regiment through the Seven Days'
battle, and died gloriously at Malvern Hill, just a
month after the death of Colonel Miller.

Beginning with the Peninsular campaign, the
Eighty-first Regiment participated in all of the import-
ant battles and campaigns of the Army of the Potomac,
and fought under Grant to the fall of Richmond and


the close of the war. Its exceptional record was earned
at the expense of a long list of casualties.

Sergeant Obadiah Derr, a member of this regiment,
who is still alive at Weatherly, bears the reputation
of having received more wounds than any other sol-
dier from Carbon county. He was six times severely

When Lee made his first invasion of the North,
which was checked at Antietam, a large number of
men from this county volunteered for the emergency.
Two full companies were also organized here during
1862 for the One Hundred and Thirty-second Regiment.

In the summer of 1863, when the Southern army,
flushed with the victories of Fredericksburg and Chan-
cellorsville, invaded Pennsylvania, the county sent
over four hundred men to help repel the enemy. Dur-
ing 1864, over two hundred men volunteered for one
year. In addition to this the various subdistricts of
the county paid bounties to the amount of hundreds of
thousands of dollars to other volunteers.

All told. Carbon county furnished over two thou-
sand men for the suppression of the Rebellion. This
is, indeed, a remarkable showing when it is remem-
bered that her total population in 1860 was but a little
over twenty-one thousand. Many of the inhabitants,
too, were either foreign born, or the children of immi-
grants. The German, Irish, Welsh and Scotch na-
tionalities predominated. Yet these men were just as
loyal, and fought quite as heroically for the preserva-
tion of our institutions as did those whose ancestors
came over in the Mayflower. To recount the story
of their valor in its fulness would be to recount the
story of the Civil War. They figured in all the im-
portant manoeuvres of the armies, from the pesti-
lential swamps of Virginia to the everglades of


Florida; on raids and foraging expeditions, on the
battle front and the lonely picket line, crossing the
"dead-line" at Andersonville, Llbby and Bell Isle for
prompt relief from lingering death and starvation,
vermin and cruel exposure; languishing with shat-
tered bodies in hastily improvised field hospitals ; con-
tributing their share to the accumulations from the
surgeon's knife, or breathing their young lives away,
far from friends and loved ones, at the isolated spot
where the fatal bullet found its mark. A few followed
the sea and faced the additional dangers of old ocean.

Of the seventy-eight officers from the county, fifteen
were killed, one died of disease, while thirty -nine were
wounded. Taking officers and men together, five-
eighths were killed or wounded.

Not only is the record of Carbon county unsurpassed
by any section remaining loyal to the Union, whether
considering the number of men furnished in propor-
tion to voting population, or their bravery and heroism
on the field of battle, but the same is true in speaking
of the health and endurance of our soldiers.

The grand record of casualties among the United
States volunteers during the war shows that double
the number of men died of disease to those that were
killed in battle.

In comparison to this the files of the war depart-
ment show that three times as many soldiers from
this county were killed in action as died of disease.


The blowing-up of the battleship Maine in the har-
bor of Havana on February 15, 1898, and the result-
ing loss of a large proportion of her crew, it was at
once felt would make war between the United States
and Spain inevitable.


Strained relations had existed between the two na-
tions for some time previous to this dreadful oc-
currence, owing to the attitude of the American people,
who symjDathized with Cuba, a dependency of Spain, in
her struggle against the tyranny of the mother coun-

When the court of inquiry, appointed to ascertain
the cause of the catastrophe, reported that the ship
had been destroyed by a mine in the harbor, and not
by the explosion of her own magazines, it was taken
as conclusive evidence that the Spanish authorities
were responsible for the horror. This conviction re-
sulted in the extinction of Spanish power on the Amer-
ican continent.

On April 21, Spain dismissed the United States
minister, breaking off diplomatic relations, which was
practically a declaration of war.

President McKinley at once issued a call for one
hundred and twenty-five thousand volunteers. The
sons of the North and the South, with wonderful unan-
imity, promptly responded, and the quotas of the dif-
ferent states were filled in a few hours, while thou-
sands of disappointed applicants were turned away.

Before the land forces could be brought into action,
the Spanish fleet in the Pacific was crushed in the most
startling and dramatic fashion by the squadron of
Commodore Dewev.

Carbon county's contribution to the army was made
principally under the second call for volunteers, and
consisted of about one hundred and twenty-five men.
Most of these belonged to the company recruited by
Dr. William H. Clewell, of Summit Hill, which was
attached to the Ninth Eegiment, commanded by Colonel
Charles B. Dougherty, of Wilkes-Barre. Robert S.


Mercur, of the same place, was the captain of the com-
pany, while Clewell served as lieutenant.

The men were mustered into service in the old arm-
ory at Summit Hill, formerly the home of the Carbon
Guards, leaving for Camp George H. Thomas, at
Chickamauga, on the ninth of July. They were not
uniformed or equipped until their arrival in the South.

Nearly thirty men from the Panther Creek Valley
joined the Eighth Regiment at Tamaqua, under the
command of Colonel Theodore Hoffman. This regi-
ment was first stationed at Camp Alger, near Falls
Church, Va. ^

But in a war between two nations of such unequal
strength and fitness as the United States and Spain
there could be but one outcome. After a struggle as
brief as it was futile, Spain submitted to her more
powerful rival. Thus no opportunity was afforded
the men of this region to "flash the maiden sword";
but they displayed their patriotism in responding to
the country's call.

Nearly all participated in the military parade of the
Peace Jubilee at Philadelphia in the latter part of
September, joining ranks with a host of veterans of
the Civil War.

The Ninth Regiment was mustered out of service at
Wilkes-Barre on October 29, while the Eighth fol-
lowed suit at Camp MacKenzie, Ga., March 7, 1899.

A few men from Carbon county took part in sup-
pressing the insurrection in the Philippine Islands,
which followed American occupation of the archi-
pelago. Among the number was Captain William H.
Wilhelm, a gallant officer of the regular army, who was
killed during the month of June, 1901.



It is interesting in this age of free schools and gen-
eral enlightenment to look back upon the educational
facilities of our forefathers, and to consider the hard-
ships and difficulties which beset the pathway of the
children of the pioneers in their quest of knowledge.

Among the old records of the Dutch government on
the Delaware is found an account of the labors of
Evert Pieterson, who held the office of "schoolmaster,
sexton, comforter of the sick and setter of psalms."

He arrived in the colony in April, 1657, and in mid-
summer of that year was teaching twenty-five pupils.
This was the first educational institution, as nearly as
can be ascertained, in what is now Pennsylvania.

The Swedes, too, established schools in the earliest
years of their settlement on the Delaware. But these
schools are merely historical curiosities.

The foundations of education in Pennsylvania were
laid by William Penn. The original "Frame of Gov-
ernment" and the "Great Law," enacted in the first
year of the province, provided that "schools shall be
established for the education of the young. ' '

Acting upon this provision, a school was opened in
Philadelphia by Enoch Flowers, in 1683, each pupil
being charged a small sum for tuition. In 1689, the
Friends' public grammar school, which afterward be-
came the William Penn Charter School, was opened in
Philadelphia. It was not a public school, in the mod-
ern sense of the term, but resembled the so-called
"public schools" of England. It was endowed and



free only to the poor, while those in better circum-
stances were required to pay reasonable tuition fees.

In the early history of the province, the schools with
few exceptions were under religious domination. The
minister was usually expected to serve also as school-
master, while much of the instruction given related
to subjects embraced in the catechism of the church.
Protestants and Catholics alike adopted this policy,
thereby establishing a strong prejudice against any
attempt on the part of the civil authorities to usurp
their functions in matters pertaining to educaition.
However, the number of church schools was inade-
quate, and where people lived five or ten miles from a
church, or where a variety of religious denominations
existed, schools were organized by neighborhoods.
The building of a house and the employment of a
teacher was usually entrusted to a committee elected
by the neighborhood. The money needed was raised
by voluntary subscription. These schools after a time
outnumbered those sustained by religious bodies, ow-
ing to the intermingling of sects and nationalities as
the population grew.

The provincial school house was generally a rough
log cabin, and the spaces between the logs were filled
with chips of wood and plastered with mortar. The
floors were of earth and sometimes of timber, through
which snakes often crawled. Nearly one side of the
house was occupied by the immense chimney, and there
were several windows with small panes of glass. The
furniture consisted of four-legged benches made of
logs split in two and hewn to a proper thickness,
and stools and tables of the same material and work-
manship. The desks were placed against the wall,
facing outward, while seats without backs were in the
middle of the room for the smaller scholars.


The first regular branch of instruction was reading,
for this was preparatory to learning the catechism
and taking part in religious exercises. When writing
was first introduced it was confined wholly to boys, a&
the acquirement was deemed unnecessary for girls.
Ink was made of nut-galls bruised, to which was added
a proper proportion of water and some rusty nails.
Paper was costly, and birch bark was often used as a
substitute. Arithmetic was taught, but without the
use of books. The ' ' sums ' ' were dictated by the mas-
ter and worked out on paper or bark, for blackboards
were unknown, and slates and pencils did not come
into use until after the Revolution.

If the equipment of these schools was rude and
primitive, the instruction given was frequently in har-
mony with the surroundings.

The state, in 1776, took no ground in advance of
the church and neighborhood schools when it pro-
posed to furnish elementary instruction at low prices.

In 1790, however, Timothy Pickering, of Luzerne;
William Findley, of Westmoreland, and others, suc-
ceeded in getting the words — ''in such manner that the
poor shall be taught gratis" — attached to the constitu-
tional clause on schools.

Magnanimous as the intent of the authors of this
provision may have been, it later became apparent
that the cause of popular education had not been much
advanced by the paternal attitude thus assumed by the

For several decades the lawmakers of Pennsylvania
hoped to be able to secure universal education by
simply providing for the gratuitous instruction of
the poor, and long continued to make labored efforts to
that end.


For purposes of classification, the pupils' names
were enrolled as "pay" and "pauper" scholars.

The law provided that the tuition of the latter class
should be paid by the county, whenever the returns of
the assessors showed that the parents were unable to
bear the expense. But the sense of equality that had
been engendered by free institutions was such that all
attempts to educate poor children at the public ex-
pense, in schools with other children or in schools by
themselves, completely failed.

The class distinctions that had been broken up in
general society could not be preserved in school. Pov-
erty could deaden self-respect in few parents to the
extent of allowing their children to attend schools
where they were certain to be looked down upon as
belonging to an inferior class. These schools came
to be despised by the rich and shunned by the poor.

Then it was that the idea arose of educating all the
children in the state, irrespective of their pecuniary
condition, at the public expense. To many well-mean-
ing people, however, it seemed unreasonable to levy
taxes for the schooling of those amply able to pay their
own bills. It looked to them like a blow at self-reli-
ance and paternal responsibility.

To further complicate the situation, it was claimed
that there was no constitutional warrant to appro-
priate any money except for the poor, and, hence, it
was necessary to define the term, thus emphasizing
and, to a certain extent, peri^etuating the pauper con-

It was not until the supreme court of the state de-
cided that tlie constitution did not prohibit the use
of state money for others than the poor that a way was
seen to go forward. On this negative decision is built
the whole public school system of Pennsylvania.


The need of better and more adequate educational
facilities was painfully apparent when the "Pennsyl-
vania Society for the Promotion of Public Schools"
was organized in Philadelphia in 1827. Roberts Vaux
was the leading spirit in the affairs of this society,
which effectively agitated the question at issue, and
public meetings and memorials sprang up over the
state. This culminated in 1834 in the enactment of a
law which provided for the establishment of schools
which should be free to all.

The most influential champion of this measure was
Governor George Wolfe, the son of a German immi-
grant, of Northampton county. This, the beginning
of the common school system, inaugurated a new era
in the progress of universal education in the state.

The new law, however, met with strong opposition,
even from the friends of the system, who distrusted its
methods. But it had a fearless champion in Thad-
deus Stevens, with whom Wolfe courageously joined
in defense of the system when a desperate but unsuc-
cessful attempt was made by the legislature in 1835
to overthrow it.

No special effort was at first made to put the new
school system in operation. The law was in some re-
spects imperfect, and supplementary legislation was
necessary to correct its weaknesses. Besides, the
question of its adoption or rejection was discretionary
with the people of each district, and many rejected it,
preferring to go on in the old way. But in 1849 the
law was made applicable to every part of the state.

The act of 1854 introduced new and important fea-
tures, while the main points of the law were left un-
changed. It created the office of county superintend-
ent of schools, authorized the levying and collection of
school taxes, and gave fuller powers generally to


boards of directors. For the first time since the begin-
ning of the crusade for free schools, the district officers
were clothed with adequate authority to enforce the

Three years later, the state superintendency of com-
mon schools was made a separate office; before that its
duties were performed by the secretary of the com-

At the same time the normal school law was passed,
providing for the establishment under state aid of
institutions for the professional preparation of teach-

The system of soldiers' orphan schools established
in 1864 marked the beginning of a scheme of benevo-
lence without a parallel in the history of any other
state or nation.

Pennsylvania furnished nearly four hundred thou-
sand men in the war for the preservation of the Union.
It is estimated that fifty thousand of these fell in battle
or died in hospitals, while perhaps an equal number

Online LibraryFred (Frederick Charles) BrenckmanHistory of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, → online text (page 8 of 44)