156 Years Ago Today, June 28th, Gettysburg Before History Found It


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JPK Huson 1863

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artist gatehouse cem hill.JPG

In late June 1863 Mrs. Peter Thorn, Elizabeth, was a pregnant immigrant mother caring for two small boys and left sole caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery while husband Peter went to war. Her parents could help, their home in the other side of teeny living quarters.

If you've been to PA you'll understand we Pennsylvanians can take the scenery for granted. PA hills and small mountains roll from border to border, you can't count the number of small towns tucked inside those encircling arms. There's generally a river somewhere, fed by creeks and streams. Well, cricks. Penn thought it a good idea inserting German immigrants between those pesky, annoyed Native Americans and his Quakers. They'd be slaughtered and heck, once the danger was over land could be routed back through Penn's hands. He miscalculated a German farmer's tenacity and passion for fertile fields of his own. Germans aren't dislodged easily. Their farms still dot this valley end to end- it's sincerely breathtaking.

june 23 dr oneal.JPG

From June 23rd, 1863. A Dr. O'Neal moved his office. A Southern transplant he was viewed with suspicion by some local residents. Because he'd chosen Gettysburg, Adams county in Pennsylvania men marching towards him when this was printed would one day finally leave. Days later O'Neal carefully marked every Confederate grave encountered as the battle transpired. Notes were used when the Weavers, father and son, were locating graves.

Commerce of course rolled in. Towns whose wealth was based in agriculture or coal or canals and railroads attracted more commerce , churches were founded as well as banks, schools and other elements necessary to support these little ' burgs '. It was Gettysburg, Adams county's setting ( pretty much ) in June 1863. One civilian wrote later the town had suffered continual alarms, threatened invasions kept them on edge. Men like Peter Thorn, Evergreen Cemetery keeper and father of two boys left for war. Young men studying at Pennsylvania College, an eye on the PA border and a not very distant war formed their militia. You hear Gettysburg described as a ' sleepy ' little town. It wasn't. Sounds as bustling as any city, just better looking.

And there's this. It's the usual Victorian run-on advertisement by McIlheny's store. Ad ran in The Adam's Country Sentinel several months in a row. This snip is from June 23rd.
june 23 shoes mcelinys.JPG


I realize the whole ' shoe ' legend is now held to be myth. But. This account by a veteran in a much later edition seems to confirm it, at least somewhat.
story shoes.JPG



No idea why the ' befores ' get to me. Gettysburg's ' after ' forever marked not just this town but all American history. Presidents came there, books past counting, then movies have tried to convey ' Gettysburg ' in the summer of 1863. What's always surreal to me is seeing the town, it's now famous names and places waiting for it all to happen. It's where everything was, like a set stage before Gettysburg became " Gettysburg ".

june 23 ordanance no riding on sidewalk.JPG

You get a macabre kick out of these, and the one where an ordnance had just been passed where no discharge of firearms within Evergreen Cemetery was allowed.

june 23 marble works.JPG

Produce taken in exchange for work! The company may have been in financial trouble, something that would change in around a week.

june 16 strawberry festival.JPG

It's all so summer. The Reformed Church's Strawberry Festival. Post battle all the churches in town had to share the $500 bucks our government doled out to repair them. Blood soaked pews and carpets had to be replaced, pock marked doors, shattered windows and blasted roofs repaired before services could be held.

Dr's Cress and Taylor were unaware they'd have around another week before being plunged into History.
june 16 dr cress and taylor.JPG


And the Children's Aid Society thought this pretty little town a wonderful place for children. They were coming, " seeking homes for them in the country ".
june 30 1863 childrens aid.JPG


That Lee was coming to takes up an article here there, maybe no one could blame them. No one knew what would transpire, if anything did, no one could really do much about it.
july 23rd lee coming.JPG

No surprise can possibly take place.

There's more, not just clippings. A day or so before July 1st, there's still time.

july 23 pa college militia.JPG
 

JPK Huson 1863

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As a native Pennsylvanian, born in Coaldale and lived in Lancaster, Lehigh and now Franklin County, I thoroughly agree with your text and certainly enjoyed your entire postings. I am only 30 minutes from Gettysburg.

Just wrote a ' reply ', hit ' post ' and it vanished. Coaldale! Big Schuylkill county fan here. Dad's family settled there when a lot of it was still Berks. Tamaqua, Pottsville, Schuylkill Haven, Cressona- it's supposed to be just the coal regions, no one remembers the railroad and canals.

We're pretty lucky in most ways- it's a great state. You have a shorter drive to Gettysburg than we do- no matter which route I take, best time I can make to Gettysburg is 90 minutes.
 

pamc153PA

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As a native Pennsylvanian, born in Coaldale and lived in Lancaster, Lehigh and now Franklin County, I thoroughly agree with your text and certainly enjoyed your entire postings. I am only 30 minutes from Gettysburg.
I’m a native Pennsylvanian too, born and raised in Bucks and Lehigh counties. Many relatives in my dad’s side come from the coal region; several worked for Bethlehem Steel. Now I live in Berks county, east of Reading, and it takes a couple hours to get to Gettysburg.
 

Dusty

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It was a long time ago, sometime around 1954, 1955. I have a hard time remembering back that far. I used to spend two weeks of my summer vacation from my school in Lancaster, with my grandparents who lived in Port Carbon, Pa. My grandfather was an American History buff. He used to receive the hard copy of the American Heritage book by mail, it came in different volumes. He took me to Gettysburg, one of those summers, as he had never been there himself. We drove his car to the battlefield and the guide, if I recall correctly, drove his car with my grandfather in the passenger seat and me in the back. Or, it may have been a Park car, not too sure. It was interesting and it’s strange, but as I said a very long time ago, but I faintly remember parts of the tour and the guide pointing out the Eisenhower farm. Funny how things work out that 65 years later I should be living 23.5 miles away via route 30.
 

James N.

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It was a long time ago, sometime around 1954, 1955. I have a hard time remembering back that far. I used to spend two weeks of my summer vacation from my school in Lancaster, with my grandparents who lived in Port Carbon, Pa. My grandfather was an American History buff. He used to receive the hard copy of the American Heritage book by mail, it came in different volumes. He took me to Gettysburg, one of those summers, as he had never been there himself. We drove his car to the battlefield and the guide, if I recall correctly, drove his car with my grandfather in the passenger seat and me in the back. Or, it may have been a Park car, not too sure. It was interesting and it’s strange, but as I said a very long time ago, but I faintly remember parts of the tour and the guide pointing out the Eisenhower farm. Funny how things work out that 65 years later I should be living 23.5 miles away via route 30.
That's probably correct, because I think I remember the same arrangement when my mother and I visited Gettysburg in 1961 and engaged a guide at one of the entry stations.
 

Lubliner

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OMG, and no mention of Hershey? Cause a local ladies buzz about that.
Onto the topic of coal and railroads, and goods and railroads, reading the Evening Star in Washington City and their rail schedules, made me wonder if the port of call for many things came into New York, took the quick line to the Capital, and then spread out to other areas. The garment industry in this northern city was filled to the brim in 1861. Hats, caps and shoes were made possibly in the States (?) and brought in from a central point, but European styles made a good amount of headline.
Thanks, Lubliner.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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It was a long time ago, sometime around 1954, 1955. I have a hard time remembering back that far. I used to spend two weeks of my summer vacation from my school in Lancaster, with my grandparents who lived in Port Carbon, Pa. My grandfather was an American History buff. He used to receive the hard copy of the American Heritage book by mail, it came in different volumes. He took me to Gettysburg, one of those summers, as he had never been there himself. We drove his car to the battlefield and the guide, if I recall correctly, drove his car with my grandfather in the passenger seat and me in the back. Or, it may have been a Park car, not too sure. It was interesting and it’s strange, but as I said a very long time ago, but I faintly remember parts of the tour and the guide pointing out the Eisenhower farm. Funny how things work out that 65 years later I should be living 23.5 miles away via route 30.

Wonder how many of us ended up back here after living elsewhere? We're around 3 minutes from Schuylkill county and 20 from where I lived as a little girl. Like Pam, more than a few of us describe where we live by how long it takes to get to Gettysburg. No mention of Harrisburg, the capitol. Heck, may as well drive to Gettysburg and park if you want to go anywhere in downtown Harrisburg, and walk since they've parking permitted the bejammers out of the Burg.

@Lubliner , old Milton wasn't born until 1857- I ' think ' Hershey, PA was a small town called Derry Church at the time of the ACW. In 2019 it's sure busy , the med center and park making it almost part of the chocolate story. Have to say the park is really, really expensive now, so crowded kids can wait for 30 minutes in line for a ride. No one even remembers there was anything else there. Rats. NOW I have to go look up whether the church for which a town was named is still there.
 

W117Monte

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This thread is way cool.
Hello fellow Berks and Skook residents :smile: I live in hamburg. i say fellow Skook because all of my friends consider Hamburg to be in Schuylkill county.
 

James N.

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OMG, and no mention of Hershey? Cause a local ladies buzz about that.
Onto the topic of coal and railroads, and goods and railroads, reading the Evening Star in Washington City and their rail schedules, made me wonder if the port of call for many things came into New York, took the quick line to the Capital, and then spread out to other areas. The garment industry in this northern city was filled to the brim in 1861. Hats, caps and shoes were made possibly in the States (?) and brought in from a central point, but European styles made a good amount of headline.
Thanks, Lubliner.
If you mean before the Civil War, it was more likely to Philadelphia and "then spread out" - even though it was the Nation's Capital D.C. was more like a sleepy country court house town, except of course when Congress was in session. Then and only then did it come alive before again falling into a moribund torpor once it recessed again. The best look at Washington, it's wartime growth, and resulting problems is Margaret Leech's ca. 1942 Revilie in Washington, one of the very best non-military books about the Civil War I've ever read!
 

Lubliner

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If you mean before the Civil War, it was more likely to Philadelphia and "then spread out" - even though it was the Nation's Capital D.C. was more like a sleepy country court house town, except of course when Congress was in session. Then and only then did it come alive before again falling into a moribund torpor once it recessed again. The best look at Washington, it's wartime growth, and resulting problems is Margaret Leech's ca. 1942 Revilie in Washington, one of the very best non-military books about the Civil War I've ever read!
I have to agree on Leech's book as No. 1. That was like a sci-fi time-travel experience.
Lubliner.
 

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