"Nick Biddle," of Pottsville, Pa

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ErnieMac

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William Austin Leyden of the 9th Georgia Artillery was born on a Thursday, May 18, 1826 in Belfast, Center County Pennsylvania. 4 He came from a distinguished lineage descended from Sir. John Leyden, a poet of rare literary attainments, worked with Sir Walter Scott, knew over 30 languages and was knighted for valuable services rendered in India. On his mother Mary’s side, John McBride, a revolutionary war soldier who served under General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, and their family received bounty land in Pennsylvania. Austin was raised working with canal boats along the Susquehanna and Schuylkill rivers. By the age of 16 he became captain of a small fleet. 5

Do you know of any details or resources to search for. I could not find Belfast in Center County
I found an 1840 Census record for a John Laden in Spring Township, Centre County, Pennsylvania. Spring Township surrounds the borough of Bellefonte, which is about 10 miles from Penn State University. The only Belfast PA I've located is at the eastern end of the state in Northampton County.
 

ErnieMac

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Did the 1840 Census record for a John Laden list a wife named Mary (McBride) and any children?
Unfortunately the Census Bureau did not start listing names other than the head of household until 1850. John Laden's household consisted of three males (1 aged 10-15, 1 aged 15-20, 1 aged 40-50), one female (aged 30-40), two free black males (1 aged 10-24, 1 aged 36-55) and two free black females (1 aged under 10, 1 aged 36-55).
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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The county borders changed like crazy, too- so often you'll come across an ancestor, think well, that makes no sense, how could he live in X county one year, pull up stakes and wander all over the place? I guess some did-mostly the answer is they stayed put on their farm and the borders changed over their heads.

Harrisburg's library system has access to an astonishing amount of old newspapers- I don't know if there's a search engine involved, but could be worthwhile looking into it. A lot of old papers listed things like deeds being recorded, general news blurbs on people who lived in towns, etc. It's terrible time-consuming, but really worth it, entering the name you're looking for, along with '1840', etc., seeing what comes up from the area newspapers.

I realize I tend to bring this site up a LOT, and swear I don't have an interest in it! It's just pretty astonishing, that's all. If your ancestor had anything to do withthe Schuylkill canal and its' boats- you may find a hit somewhere on the Schuylkill Haven History site- the man who owns the site has a super section of the old Schuylkill Canal. Both my grgrgrandfathers from that area who were in the CW were boatmen- the Knarr involved was part of a family who built some of them.
 
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ErnieMac

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Great thread here. My GGG grandfather was with the 48th but never made it past the New Bern expedition. Family lore indicates his son,B. West junior also died in the war but we can't locate any info on him. You all are probably aware,but there is a great blog dedicated to the 48th:
http://www.48thpennsylvania.blogspot.com/
The 1860 Census for Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania shows Bernard West, aged 44 born in France and his family living in Tamaqua. The census show a son named Bernard aged 11.
 
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The 1860 Census for Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania shows Bernard West, aged 44 born in France and his family living in Tamaqua. The census show a son named Bernard aged 11.
I recall my father commenting that if those census records were accurate,it appeares Private West fudged his age a bit. I wonder what the cutoff age was to enlist? Perhaps his nickname was "Pops" to those youngsters in the regiment.
I'm in possession of an old copy of "Sparks from the Campfire" where my GG grandmother wrote "My father Bernard West Sr. and brother Bernard West Jr.both died in the war for the Union". If he was 11 in 1860 he would have been awfully young to enlist.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Wow, I'll say! I wonder how hard some of the recruiters blinked, when they looked at some of these kids? The other thing is, census takers were frequently wrong also, esp with immigrant families- I think the language barrier was just too much sometimes and they would either guess or take a word and decide for themselves what it meant. Hee- that's not to say these kids did not fudge to enlist, and without a parent signing for them. My grgrgrandfather did also, boy did he age between 1861 and 1865.

I'm going to really be boring and mention again for anyone reading this thread who hasn't seen previous posts ( skip this if it's now annoying :smile: )- it's just that you can't beat this site for information and plain, old pleasure if you love Schuylkill County. Just Google ' Schuylkill Haven History ', it'll come up. One man runs the entire thing, and don't be dismissive of the GAR section ( which is huge ) because I think that is where a lot of battle reports are. I found my grgrgrandfather's obit there- talk about thrilled. Your ancestor did not have to live in Schuylkill Haven to be mentioned- the county seems to be represented in a lot of material.
 
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Pat Young

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Biddle must have had a bit of celebrity as a result of his early wounding via mob violence. I say that because this nice photo was made of him. I had not heard of him previously. It's a nice photo.
The incident was well-known at the time. It emphasized the racial character of the conflict right from the start.
 
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James N.

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Is this a Black confederate?
I'm ignorant of this man. Sorry I can't help.
The uniform Nick is wearing is a very typical example of that of the Veteran's Reserve Corps, also derisively known as the Invalid Corps. It was organized around 1864 as a place to put recovered sick and injured soldiers who were still bound by their term of enlistments but physically unable to return to their parent units. The uniform coatees were made of the same sky-blue kersey as most Union trousers and were trimmed as shown by a darker blue tape in the manner of cavalry or artillery jackets. (A friend of mine owns a mint original of one of these he purchased decades ago.) These unique uniforms made their wearers targets of derision by unfeeling observers who accused them of being shirkers and a popular comic song called The Invalid Corps didn't help matters any. For these reasons the distinctive uniforms were eventually replaced by the same uniforms everyone else wore but they still show up in some late-war photos; you can see members wearing them standing guard in large-scale scenes like Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Bringing this up again because I've been poking around in something singular about the area Nick Biddle was from. It's really, really hard finding anything solid except documents from churches - there's other evidence not as solid like word of mouth from a few locals. This fled later and I can never put a finger on exactly when the shift happened. During Biddle's time and for some time post war race didn't seem an issue where he lived- church weddings are on record between races. It's fascinating, very cool to see and disheartening we rocketed backwards at some point.
 
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