The Grand Army of the Republic in Lancaster County

Copyright 1995, Lancaster County Historical Society (JOURNAL of the Lancaster County Historical Society, Volume 97, Number 3, 1995, Copies are available).

By Glenn B. Knight

It was early 1866 and the United States of America--now securely one nation again--was waking to the reality of recovery from war. In prior wars the care for the veteran warrior was the province of the family or the community. Soldiers were friends and neighbors who went off to fight--until the next planting or harvest. This war was very different.

By the end of the Civil War, units had become less homogeneous, men from different communities and even different states were forced together by the exigencies of battle where trust and friendship was forged. And with the advances in the care and movement of wounded, many who would have surely died in earlier wars now returned home to be cared for by a weary community structure which now also faced the needs of widows and orphans. Veterans needed jobs, including a whole new group of veterans--the colored soldier and his entire, newly freed, family. It was often more than the fragile fabric of communities could bear.

State and federal leaders from President Lincoln down had promised to care for "those who have borne the burden, his widows and orphans", but they had little knowledge of how to accomplish the task. There was also little political pressure to see that the promises were kept.

But probably the most profound emotion was emptiness. Men who had lived together, fought together, foraged together and survived together, had developed an unique bond that could not be broken. As time went by the memories of the filthy and vile environment of camp life began to be remembered less harshly and eventually fondly. Friendships forged in battle survived separation and the warriors missed the warmth of trusting companionship that had asked only total commitment.

With that background, groups of men began joining together--first for camaraderie and then for political power. They would ultimately forge the Grand Army of the Republic, a political and social force like none other in the history of our nation. The first "political action committee" would eventually control state legislatures, governorships, and would become powerful voting blocks in federal decision making. They would devise the model for the Spanish-American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and other groups wielding political power and uniting for social purposes.

In Lancaster the "War of the Rebellion" had ended less than a year earlier when a group of veterans met at the hall of the United Order of American Mechanics on East King Street. Lieutenant Colonel William L. Baer was, according to their minute book, "in the chair". The date was Feb. 13, 1866 and the Soldiers and Sailors Union was formed upon the foundation of the "Soldiers and Sailors' National Union League" that had organized the previous month in Washington, D.C. Baer was a delegate (recorded in the Proceedings as "Lieutenant Colonel Bear, of Pa.") to the organizing convention held Jan. 22 through 24, 1866.

The Grand Army of the Republic was not organized until April 6 of that year in Decatur, Ill. and on Jan 16, the following year, the Department of Pennsylvania, G.A.R. was organized in Philadelphia.

The fraternity grew and by the turn of the century was a political and social force with wide power and influence. That influence grew locally, too, as the Lancaster County contingent was the only Pennsylvania county with its own identity in the parade at the 36th Annual Encampment in Washington, DC, October 1902 . General Orders No. 6 dated Oct. 22, 1902 report:
In the "Grand Parade" six thousand comrades participated, the following Posts marched . . . and the "Lancaster County Battalion" representing sixteen Posts, parading 200 Comrades.

By the time the Grand Army of the Republic held its final National Encampment, in Indianapolis, in 1949, Lancaster County had hosted 19 posts and numerous units of the "allied orders" of the G.A.R. This article from the Quarryville Sun of May 18, 1904 shows that the peak had been reached by that time:
At a meeting of delegates of the eighteen Grand Army posts of Lancaster County, resolutions were adopted indorsing Major H. Y. Breneman for election to the position of Senior Vice Commander of the Department of Pennsylvania by the next State Encampment.

The only survivors of this legacy are Gen. George H. Thomas Camp No. 19, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and its Auxiliary. They currently meet at the Lancaster County Historical Society.


The Soldiers and Sailors Union made its home in various locations throughout downtown Lancaster and on Oct. 1, 1867 their minutes said that they were installed as Post #84 of the Grand Army of the Republic by Department Special Aide de Camp A. C. Reinoehl. (Reinoehl was a Department Organizer as his name is associated with the mustering of several posts within the county--he was a local attorney admitted to the Lancaster Bar in 1866) Special Order No. 75 was signed on Sept. 28 by Louis Wagner, Grand Commander of the Department of Pennsylvania, G.A.R. making that the official date of its charter. [The title "Grand Commander" was used briefly in the formative days of the G.A.R. to represent the commander of a department--it was quickly replaced by the less ostentatious "Department Commander".]

As late as 1874 city directories continued to show an independent Soldiers and Sailors Union meeting at Excelsior Hall on East King Street--but the entry is under the heading "Grand Army of the Republic".

William Weidler became the first commander of the post. Jacob K. Barr, who was the fourth commander, went on to be Department Senior Vice Commander in 1879 and John P. Rea, a lawyer admitted to the Lancaster Bar in 1868, went from the seventh man to command Post #84 to command of the Department of Minnesota in 18831 and in 1888 he was Commander-in-Chief of the entire G.A.R. When a reception in Commander-in-Chief Rea's honor was given by Post #84 at the Fulton Opera House on Jan. 17, 1888, the opening address was given by "Comrade Jas. A. Beaver", then Governor of Pennsylvania. It later became the custom of Capt. Snow Post #561, Pleasant Grove to hold their Memorial Day services "over the grave of Capt. John P. Rea"2 who died May 28, 1900.

Lancaster County's first G.A.R. post would remain un-named until April 12, 1870 when word of the death of Gen. George H. Thomas reached Lancaster (He had died on March 28 at his headquarters in San Francisco). Thomas, nicknamed "The Rock of Chickamauga", is cited in Generals in Blue by Ezra J. Warner as "third of the triumvirate who won the war for the Union." As many members of Post #84 had served in the 79th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, under Thomas, there was strong interest in honoring his memory by naming the post after him. At a special meeting of the post that evening the membership voted overwhelmingly to name the post "George H. Thomas Post #84". The hall was ordered draped for 6 months and a memorial resolution was published in the Daily Express. The decision was telegraphed to Department Headquarters in Philadelphia to lay first claim to the name. 3

The following week the post formed a "Monumental Association" to raise a monument in the county to its Civil War soldiers and sailors. While much of the credit for actually raising the money goes to Lancaster's Patriot Daughters, headed by Rosina Hubley, Mrs. Reigert and Miss Annie Slaymaker, it would appear that the George H. Thomas Post actually spearheaded the idea.

Various directories and histories have the post meeting at Mechanics' Hall, Russel's Hall, the hall of the Independent Order of Red Men (on North Queen Street), Grand Army Hall in the Coyle Building (East King Street) and then to Grand Army Hall in Bair & Shank's banking building on Center Square. An item in the Dec. 5, 1870 edition of the Lancaster Daily Express describes the meeting room, probably at Bair & Shank's:
A Handsome Hall - We had the pleasure this morning of paying a visit to the hall of George H. Thomas Post No 84 Grand Army of the Republic on the third floor of Barr's building on East King Street. Few people are aware that so chaste and elegant a hall exists in that portion of the city. The badges of all the Corps of the Union Army are hung upon the wall, gotten up in enlarged form, and adding much to the appearance of the room. Behind each officers chair is a canopied tent, at once recalling the scenes and associations of the camp--and there too hang the colors of the glorious 79th, our old veteran regiment.

Some time before 1890 they moved into their own hall at 125 E. King St. and by 1921 both active posts and all of the "allied orders" were meeting at the Grand Army of the Republic Hall, 43 S. Duke St. 4 The building has since been demolished. On Feb. 10, 1910 the post was located at 42 N. Queen St. (Kepler Bldg.) which was destroyed by fire on that date when the Reilly Bros. & Raub Hardware Store burned. Newspaper accounts of the fire suggest that it was a complete loss, but the records of the post were not harmed--most of them are now in the Lancaster County Historical Society archives along with the restored second battle flag of the 79th PVI which was reported in the possession of the post.

According to History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania by Franklin Ellis and Samuel Evans, the post was chartered with 20 members and during its existence had 563 men on its rolls and in 1883, 222 were in good standing. When the Pennsylvania Department encampment was held in Lancaster in 1919, eight members of the Thomas post served on the committee. They were: H. R. Breneman, Harry C. Flick, James McCune, Philip Rudy, D. H. Heitshu, Philip Deiter, John Stober and John Ingram.

The Proceedings of the 1937 encampment show the post with two members and the next year that same source shows that they did not pay the required "per capata tax". From a 1941 Memorial Day program we learn that Post #84 was still recognized locally (although probably not chartered) at that time. Members of the post serving on the committee that year were Elam Ritter, Jacob C. Troop and Isaac Groff.

[It is difficult to find ending dates for most posts as some were reinstated after having officially been folded while others simply stopped paying their assessments. Newspaper and public records often cited posts (and their members) long after the posts themselves folded. Where actual ending dates are listed, they are the date that the charter was returned to the Pennsylvania Department (now on file at the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg).]


Columbia, transportation and trade center, as well as the only community in the county directly touched by the Civil War, became the second location for the G.A.R. to organize a post.

Organized and mustered on March 21, 1868, again by Reinoehl, Gen. Thomas Welsh Post #118 began its existence at its own hall above 139 Locust St. but by 1882 was meeting in the Odd Fellows' Hall. 5

Named for a native of Columbia (one of six generals the community was to produce through the present) who served in both the Mexican War and the Civil War, Post #118 had 300 names on its rolls by 1883. Welsh enlisted as a private in the 2nd Kentucky Regiment and was severely wounded at Buena Vista. He recruited a company of the 11th Pennsylvania (90 days) in a matter of hours and was elected lieutenant colonel. When mustered out he was appointed colonel of the 45th Pennsylvania and, at Charleston Harbor in 1862 was placed in command of a brigade of H. G. Wright's Division. He died of malaria in Cincinnati, Ohio while in command of the First Division of Burnside's IX Corps on Aug. 14, 1863.6

Henry Mullen (later postmaster of Columbia) was the charter commander in 1868 and had among his membership the editors of both The Columbia Herald, W. James Grier, Esq. and The Columbia Spy, J. W. Yocum, Esq. Both editors would take a turn in command of the post. 7 In late 1869 things did not appear to be going too well for the post as the Department of Pennsylvania's Assistant Adjutant General wrote to Commander Mullen on Dec. 18, 1869:
I regret to learn that your Post is not working as it should under our reorganization. . .I have not the slightest evidence that you pay any attention to the Orders as published and sent to you. I respectfully suggest to you that this is not the treatment due the organization or its properly constituted officers. It will certainly be a matter of deep regret should we [be] obliged--by a continuance of this neglect--to disband your Post It certainly ought not to be in such a condition as to deserve this & need not be.
Yours in F.C. & L.
Robt. B. Beath
A. A. Genl

The admonition apparently worked as Ellis & Evans, in 1883, reported:
Gen. Welsh Post is one of the strongest, numerically and financially, and one of the best organized and successfully conducted posts in the interior of the state.

A plot of ground in Mount Bethel Cemetery was controlled by the post for the burial of indigent soldiers and was active in Memorial Day activities for many years. "The post owns a valuable sciopticon [a form of magic lantern] and dissolving views, used in the illustration of its ritual. . .." reported Ellis & Evans. It was also known for its large and well-organized drum corps.

In the records of the post is found a report of the Committee on Marking Graves, 1915. It shows the following numbers of flags used at various cemeteries: Klinesville, 16; Kinderhook, 8; Mountville, 45; Washington Boro, 36; Newtown, 14; Silver Spring, 17; Ironville, 7; Laurel Hill, 20; German Catholic Cemetery, 11; Mt. Bethel Cemetery, 331, Mt. Bethel Colored Soldiers Plot, 45 and "John Ott for comrades grave in York County", 1. That gave a total of 551 flags used that year.

The post organized the Gen. Welsh Camp No. 68, Sons of Veterans, some time prior to 1908 but it disappeared prior to 1913. A letter, dated Feb. 17, 1885, is from Maj. Edwin A. Kelsey Camp No. 68, Sons of Veterans and requests the use of Post #118's meeting room. We have records of Jno. A. Hogendobler Circle No. 116, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, Columbia in 1904 and 1916 no other records of this Circle have been found. The post itself lasted until Nov. 22, 1933. [Much of the information in this paragraph was extracted from records of the post which had been maintained by the Columbia American Legion Post 372. Those records have been donated to the Lancaster County Historical Society and are being integrated into Manuscript Group # 17 in the archives.]

Other artifacts of the post which were being cared for by the Columbia American Legion were the post seal, gavel stone and ballot box. The ballot box is constructed in the shape of a siege cannon with the name "SWAMPANGEL" painted on one end. These items are now under the care of the Lancaster County Historical Society.


While Maj. Ricksecker Post #152 is numerically third in the county, it was organized much later, on December 11, 1888 when A. C. Reinoehl re-organized Post #152 for the Department. Post #152 had been at Spring City, Chester County but it folded and the number was then assigned to a ". . .new post at Lincoln, Lancaster County." The Department of Pennsylvania often re-issued post numbers when posts folded. Little is known about this post and it appears to have folded about 1914.

In 1893 and 1894 this post is reported, by the Department Inspector, to be host to both a unit of the Woman's Relief Corps and a camp of Sons of Veterans.

A cabinetmaker by trade, James F. Ricksecker joined Capt. Baer's Company (later to become Company F) of the 122nd P.V.I. on Aug. 11, 1862. He was promoted to captain on April 14, 1863 when Capt. B. F. Baer resigned. On July 17, 1864 he joined Co. C, 195th P.V.I., a regiment recruited almost exclusively from Lancaster County, 8 as its captain. He was transferred to Co. B on Nov. 1, 1864 at Harpers Ferry, VA and was mustered out of service at Summit Point, VA on June 21, 1865. His service record at the National Archives in Washington, DC notes that he served on a number of courts martial boards during his period of service.

From July 1 to 11, Colonel Emlen Franklin (later honored by the Ladies of the G.A.R. by naming the local circle after him) recruited and organized the 50th Regiment, Militia of 1863 and one of his staff officers was Major James F. Ricksecker (ranking just behind Lieutenant Colonel Thaddeus Stevens Jr.). The regiment was discharged Aug. 15, 1863 and it is possible that this is the same person who served the militia in an attached status due to the incursion into Pennsylvania.


Twenty two charter members organized the Lieut. William H. Child Post #226 on Aug. 31, 1881 with George H. Ettla as post commander. Senior and junior vice commanders were Amos Grove and Thomas Marlin, respectively and J. H. Druckenmiller served as adjutant. Other charter officers were: Quartermaster Horace L. Haldeman; Officer of the Day J. R. Miller; Chaplain S. E. Wisner; Officer of the Guard John Kugle; Sergeant Major Lewis Leader; Surgeon William Smedley and Quartermaster Sergeant F. J. Mack.9 Druckenmiller went on to serve as department senior vice commander in 1886.

A diary of Co. B, 45th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, now part of Manuscript Group # 18 at the Lancaster County Historical Society, lists a "Sergt. Wile H. Child" whose entry was inscribed, "Dead". Bates lists Sergeant William H. Childs muster into Company B, 45th PVI on Sept. 2, 1861 and notes that he was promoted to sergeant April 7, 1863 and to sergeant major Jan. 1, 1864. Under the regimental staff it is further noted that he was "killed in action before Petersburg, June 22, 1864." This unit was made up primarily of Lancaster County men and was commanded by Columbia's Gen. Welsh. It is possible that a battlefield commission or posthumous promotion was involved as we find much the same happening to John M. Hipple who was also a sergeant in Company B and for whom the post in Bainbridge was named.

By 1883 the post had grown to 75 members and they were meeting twice monthly in Miller's Hall on Market Street. On May 11, 1883 the post held a "Public Presentation of Flags" at Central Hall in Marietta. Commander Druckenmiller sent a letter to General Welsh Post #118, Columbia, on April 21 advising them of the event and asking , "Would you allow us the use of your sciopticon for the occasion!".

The charter was returned in 1928 according to that year's Department Encampment Proceedings. Records of the department indicate that the post, at one time, hosted a camp of Sons of Veterans.


Manheim's own Gen. Samuel Peter Heintzelman was a West Point graduate who despite great personal heroism always seemed to "just miss being an effective corps commander". 10 He remained in the Army following the war and retired with the rank of major general in 1869, moving to Washington, D. C. where he lived until his death on May 1, 1880.

Organized on Dec. 31, 1882 as an un-named post, its charter officers were: Christian Bear, post commander; Abram Harner, senior vice commander; Ephraim L. Dyer, junior vice commander; J. Reiff Shearer, adjutant; J. H. Obetz, quartermaster; Harrison Gibble, quartermaster sergeant; B. S. Houser, surgeon; G. W. White, chaplain; E. Greenawalt, officer of the day; S. S. Nees, officer of the guard and Theo. Fisher, sergeant major. "Major J. W. Young, assisted by a number of comrades from Gen. Welsh Post, No. 118, G. A. R. of Columbia" formed the post at the Order of United American Mechanics Hall.

Other charter members were: W. Usner, A. S. Longenecker, S. M. Long, M. H. Wittle, F. N. Dyer, Chambers Gibble, A. N. Obetz, C. J. Reiff, Andrew Degler, H. McQueney, Geo. B. Dowhower, Andrew Hornberger, W. P. Shiffer, C. L. Witmyer, J. W. Arndt, R. B. Long, H. P. Shiffer, C. T. Gibble, J. B. Workman, Theophilus Fisher, E. S. Dyer, Abram Helt, J. W. Pritz, H. S. Witmyer and F. M. Miller.11

By 1890 they were meeting in the G.A.R. Hall in the Post Office building twice monthly. When the borough celebrated "Old Home Week" in 1912 to recognize the centennial of Hope Hose Company No. 1, the souvenir book showed two pictures of the post--one in front of the Post Office where the G.A.R. Hall was located and one in front of the Hope Hose Co. building. It noted that 179 men from Manheim and vicinity went to war. Officers at that time were: B. S. Houser, post commander; C. Bear, senior vice commander; F. Metzger, junior vice commander; S. S. Nees, adjutant; A. Dyer, quartermaster; A. E. Behm, surgeon; S. M. Long, chaplain; C. L. Witmyer, officer of the day; A. Cooper, patriotic instructor; A. Hornberger, officer of the guard; A. Faesig, sergeant major and Peter Murr, quartermaster sergeant. The post turned in its charter on May 2, 1933.


John Hipple left Bainbridge with Co. A, 10th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, having enlisted as a private on April 24, 1861. This was a 90-day regiment which served in various guard functions and also in battle until it was discharged, as a unit, on July 31, 1861. On Sept. 2, 1861, Hipple responded to the call of Col. (later Gen.) Thomas Welsh of Columbia and enlisted, as a veteran, in Co. B of the 45th PVI. He was promoted to first sergeant on March 10, 1863 and was killed in action at Spottsylvania Court House on May 18, 1864.12 In a letter dated May 15, 1895 to General Welsh Post #118, Columbia, supporting the reinstatement of John D. Baker, the post name is written, "Lieutenant Hipple Post, No. 353". As with Sergeant Major William H. Childs we must assume that there was a posthumous commission given.

John Hipple Post #353 was chartered on June 29, 1883 and gave up its charter about 1920.

Dr. George T. Deseman was the first commander, H. Linton was senior vice commander and H. Snyder served as junior vice commander while the adjutant position was held by Dr. S. D. Whistler. John H. Green served as Quartermaster and John Galbraith was the charter chaplain. Other officers were: Joseph M. Smith, Officer of the Day; William Houseal, Surgeon; Christ Hoover, Officer of the Guard; Ephraim Good, Sergeant Major and Ross Ashton, Quartermaster Sergeant. The other charter members were Michael A. Smith, J. D. Feltenberger, John Camp, T. Beane, G. V. Hackenberger, Simon Steffy, John Shellow and George Hawthorne.13


Most G.A.R. posts moved from place to place as their membership grew and then declined. This post moved between Christiana, Lancaster County and Atglen, Chester County, a number of times. It appears that Capt. J. A. Ross Post #358 was chartered July 17, 1883 and existed some time beyond 1915. The mustering officer was L. J. Speakman of Brandywine Post #54, Coatesville, Chester County14 indicating that the post was probably oriented more toward Chester County.


The second of three posts to be organized in Lancaster, Admiral Reynolds Post #405 was named for Admiral William Reynolds, a distinguished Naval officer and brother of the better-known General John Fulton Reynolds who died July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg. Lancaster was precluded from naming one of its posts after General Reynolds because Gen. John F. Reynolds Post #71 in Philadelphia had beat them to it. The Reynolds family is intertwined with the history of Lancaster for more than a century.

Department records indicate that this post was organized Jan. 2, 1884 by Department Assistant Adjutant General Thos. J. Stewart, they met weekly at Reynolds' Hall (in the Kepler Building), 42 N. Queen St. For many years John Black served as adjutant. The 1910 Kepler Building fire which destroyed Reiley Brothers and Raub Hardware Store, Reynolds' Hall and the meeting place for many other organizations, may account for the dearth of information on this post. A "duplicate" charter for this post, dated April 1910, hangs in the Grand Army of the Republic Museum in Philadelphia. Most of what we know comes from newspaper accounts, department records and the records of other posts.

The Daily New Era reports on Feb. 7, 1888 that:
Admiral Reynolds Post 405, G.A.R. has secured the Opera House for three nights and Saturday matinee, commencing Thursday, March 15, to show Brady's War Views, which cost the United States Government $25,000. Colonel J. H. Grover, the lecturer, is classed among the best speakers of the day.

Charter member Washington F. Hambright went on to serve as commander of the Department of Pennsylvania in 1922-23, then in 1931 he was the Adjutant General of the entire G.A.R.. Martin R. Good, also a member of this post, was Department Senior Vice Commander in 1931 and 1932.

One of the post's past commanders' A. C. Leonard, in 1904, wrote and published an account of his wartime service in Company F, 54th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry under the title The Boys in Blue of 1861 - 1865, sub-titled, "A Condensed History Worth Preserving". At the end of this book he writes:
. . .through the instrumentality of the Grand Army of the Republic, just pension and other important legislation, in the interest of former comrades and their widows and orphans, has been enacted. State and national homes for the aged and needy were established, to the end that no man who wore the Union blue need spend his days in an almshouse. Schools for the mental, moral and physical education of the veterans' children are provided, and measures have been adopted whereby every honorably discharged soldier and sailor is assured a respectable Christian burial, his grave being properly marked and forever kept green.
In addition to all this the hundreds of thousands of dollars dispensed in charity by the Grand Army of the Republic is something the world knows nothing about, and the good work of this brotherhood will go on until the last comrade has been mustered into the Grand Army above.
In this organization there is perfect equality, no distinction being made on account of nationality, creed, color or politics, nor is there preference by reason of former rank in the service or present station in life, all that is asked of an applicant for membership is "Did he respond to his country's call in the days of its life and death struggle, and faithfully fulfill his obligation to the Government." If the answer be "yes," the right hand of fellowship is extended.

In other records of the Pennsylvania Department we find references to the existence of a unit of the Women's Relief Corps and a camp of the Sons of Veterans. In 1919, eight members of the post served on the committee for the Pennsylvania Department Encampment, which was held in Lancaster that year. The Post #405 representatives were: A. H. Ball, P. H. Fratz, M. H. Grube, H. C. Schenk, John Chambers, N. H. Ramsey, Newton Weaver and Daniel H. Yackley.

Members of Admiral Reynolds Post #405 participated in the 1941 Memorial Day activities in Lancaster15 even though Department of Pennsylvania records show the post folding in 1935. George Watson, John Kahl and William Hubert represented the post on that committee.

Admiral Reynolds, at the age of 16, was appointed a Naval midshipman by Representative (later President) James Buchanan on Nov. 17, 1831. Until 1855 he served on various ships and had a number of leaves and furloughs due to his poor health. Just prior to the Civil War he was serving in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and returned home to command blockade ships in the Atlantic. After the war he served as a member of the Ordinance Board, Visitor to the Naval Academy and chief of the Bureau of Equipment--the latter leading to his promotion to commodore. Following a special assignment with the Secretary of the Navy he was sent, as a rear admiral, to command the Asiatic Station (equivalent to serving as Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet in the contemporary Navy) until his retirement on Dec. 10, 1877. He died in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 5, 1879 and is buried in Lancaster close to his brother, General John F. Reynolds.16


This post was founded on Dec. 31, 1884 and met weekly at the Good Templars' Hall on South Decatur near the borough limits. Jason Skelton was charter commander with L. S. Mullikin and John J. Shurts as vice commanders. B. F. Book was its first adjutant and B. F. Spiehlman was quartermaster. Other charter officers were: D. E. Potts, surgeon; L. B. Shroy, chaplain; B. F. Sides, officer of the day; Samuel Miller, officer of the guard, Benj. F. Brown, sergeant major; John F. Rossel, quartermaster sergeant; Jos. P. Worth, inside guard and John Millhouse, outside guard. The Council of Administration consisted of Benj. Brown, Frankl. Brison and Samuel Wertz. John Shelling appears to be the only charter member who was not elected to or given a job. The post was sponsored and organized by Post #84.17 Joseph H. Long, the post's last surviving member, died in July of 1934 and according to his granddaughter he paid the post's dues until a couple of months before he died. The granddaughter, Mrs. Jean M. Long of Strasburg, has copies of the Descriptive Book, Cemetery List and a portion of the Cash Book as well as a number of artifacts from the post.

Capt. Jefferson N. Neff was commander of Co. G, 122nd PVI having been mustered in with the company on Aug. 11, 1862. According to Bates, he "Died April 21, 1863" He is buried in Brackbill's Cemetery one mile southwest of Strasburg.18

Capt. J. N. Neff Post #406 sponsored the charter of Capt. J. N. Neff Camp No. 46, Sons of Union Veterans at some time prior to 1904. There is a reference in the transcriptions from the minute book of the post about the "Sons of Veterans" on Dec. 13, 1887 but since the actual minutes are not available we do not know what the discussion was about. Joseph Long's son, R. Paul Long, was camp secretary and his records are now owned by Brent Musser Jr., who is currently chaplain of Gen. George H. Thomas Camp No. 19, SUVCW. A May 16, 1904 report of up-coming Memorial Day services in the Quarryville Sun notes that music at the Strasburg event would be provided by the "Sons of Veterans Cornet band". The camp survived at least through 1920 as members of the camp participated in a banquet which was reported in the Jan. 6, 1920 New Era.

Mrs. Long made a list of post members and their muster-in dates which she compared to the minute books and found some members who were not in the Descriptive Book. Selected copies of the post and camp records are now on file at the Lancaster County Historical Society as well as the Grand Army of the Republic Museum in Philadelphia.


Pleasant Grove is a crossroads in Southern Lancaster County close to the Maryland border in Fulton Township. Organized Oct. 8, 1884 by C. H. Fasnacht, Department Aide de Camp,19 the post appears on department records until 1928. Fasnacht, a Medal of Honor recipient, was a member of Post #84 in Lancaster.

A record of the post's early Memorial Day activities is included in the May 23, 1888 edition of the Daily New Era, under the headline, "Memorial Day in the Lower End".
Capt. Snow Post, No. 461, Grand Army of the Republic, of Pleasant Grove, will meet at their hall, at 7 o'clock a.m. on Memorial Day and proceed as follows: To Bethesda M. P. Church at Mexico, Baptist at Rocky Springs and Little Britain Presbyterian, arriving at the latter at 11:30 where services will be held. The Rev. Mr. Buckley, pastor in charge, Little Britain Sabath-school and the W.C.T.U. will participate. From Britain they will proceed to Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, and Boyd's grave yard at Fairfield. The Riverside Coronet Band of Conowingo, Md., will accompany the Post.

News reports in the Quarryville Sun indicate that Memorial Day activities of this post were generally conducted at the Little Britain (Presbyterian) Church. Wakeman Wesley was post commander in 1898 and 1899 while in 1901 the command was held by Tyson Reynolds. Other members that year included J. T. Gregg and J. H. Kidd, who participated in the Memorial Day ceremonies. From at least 1898 until 1903 or 1904 the Post Adjutant was Joel J. Carter. He was replaced with Wakeman Wesley.

Post #461 conducted ceremonies at Bethesda, Rock Springs, Eastland, Boyd's, Zion and Penn Hill cemeteries. At Little Britain Church it was the custom to hold the ceremonies, "over the grave of Captain John P. Rea." Rea had been Commander of Post #84 in Lancaster and later Commander-in-Chief of the national organization.

In the 1916 Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Department Encampment, Capt. Snow Post is shown as sponsoring a Camp of Sons of Veterans. The reference is not shown in the 1918 Proceedings.

Hugh R. Fulton Esq., writing in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, A History, by H. M. J. Klein, Ph.D., refers to "quite a number of men in Snow's Battery of the Purnell Legion of Maryland Volunteers." Given the geographic location of this post it is entirely acceptable to assume that many men from the Pleasant Grove area may have served in Maryland units. Therefore they may also have selected the name of one of their commanders to honor by naming the post after him.


Twenty nine veterans joined together on May 4, 1885 to be chartered as the Lieut. David H. Nissley Post #478.20 By 1912 membership had dropped to 20 according to the Centennial Souvenir Historical and Pictorial Mount Joy and History of Florin. Twelve years later only four remained: John G. Metzgar, Christ G. Sherk, David R. Wagner and Elias Helman. Pennsylvania Department records show the post closing in 1925.

The charter members were: James M. Hipple, W. W. Buller, H. A. Bookmyer, H. M. Way, John Hollowell, A. F. Buck, Penrose Frank, David L. Mooney, S. N. Warner, J. G. Metzger, L. P. Heilig, Jos. Bowman, J. Wilson, C. S. Blessing, H. H. Nissley, H. H. Peffer, H. Swords, F. G. Pennell, Jacob Shelley, Jos. Conner, F. M. Sourbeer, Wm. Mateer, Samuel W. Shrie, E. E. Hipple, Hiram Spickler, M. Drabenstadt, Aaron Baker, D. D. Smith and Philip Dieter. It appears that the post was sponsored by Post #84, Lancaster.

The Centennial Souvenir, which was compiled by Levi F. Sheetz in 1912 makes note of the Lieut. David H. Nissley Camp No. 74, Sons of Veterans as having been mustered March 2, 1904 by Past Commander Dr. D. Sherman Smith of Camp No. 19, Lancaster, assisted by Capt. Weidman and his staff from Camp No. 26 in Elizabethtown. The report continues:
In accordance with the duty of the Order of Sons of Veterans--to assist the Grand Army of the Republic in perpetuating the memory of the dead soldiers and sailors of the Civil War and eventually take charge of the work when the Grand Army has ceased to exist--the Camp each year assisted Lieut. David H. Nissley Post No. 478, G.A.R. in the memorial Day services until in 1906, when this work was given over entirely to the Camp by the G.A.R. Post. Since that time the Camp has had entire charge of the Memorial Day services.
The Camp took a leading part in the 15th Annual Reunion of the Central Penna. G.A.R. Association, which was held in Mount Joy, Sept. 14, 1911 every active member of the Camp serving on one or more of the various committees having charge of the arrangements and exercises.

The camp continues on the records of the department until 1925 and Memorial Day programs continue to list the post as participants through 1930.


Little is known of this post except that department rosters show it was formed Aug. 4, 1886 and continued until 1931. Joseph Miller of Gap was commander in 1888 and Henry Stanton of Cains held the position in 1891. By 1909, when John Jackson was in command, membership had dropped to six.

In the Proceedings of the 40th and 41st Encampment of the Department of Pennsylvania (1886) it was noted that there were then 15 "colored" posts in the department--Post #487 was then the only one in Lancaster County.

A Woman's Relief Corps unit was associated with this post according to the Department Inspector General reports.
From the Daily New Era of May 10, 1888 we learn this about Post 487: On Wednesday evening Post 487, G.A.R., gave an entertainment at Christiana for the purpose of raising funds to defray the expenses of Memorial Day. Chaplain Leonard, of Post 405, related his Bell Isle and Andersonville Prison life experience, Master Stauffer, of Quaryville, gave a recitation and Hon. A. C. Baldwin delivered a short address, as did Comrades Samuel Virtue, James Smith and Commander Miller. The Christiana Coronet Band was present, and furnished most excellent music.

William F. Roberts, a 25 year old student at the Pennsylvania Normal School, Millersville, from Newtown, Bucks County, enlisted as a private in May 1861. In June he was promoted to sergeant and was made color bearer for Col. H. G. Sickel, commander of the 3rd Pennsylvania Reserves. He was wounded at the second battle of Bull Run, discharged on July 30, 1862 and returned to school. J. P. Wickersham, in his letter of recommendation says, "In consequence of the rebel invasion of this state in 1863 our school was closed and during the week of the battle of Gettysburg I raised a Regiment for three months service, the 47th P.V.M. In this Regiment William F. Roberts served as a Sergeant." Wickersham was both principal of the Normal School and colonel of the regiment. With letters of recommendation from both of his regimental commanders, Roberts applied for a commission as a second lieutenant in the 6th U. S. Colored Troops (most commissioned officers in the U.S.C.T. were white). He was mustered in on Dec. 13, 1864 at Varina, VA on the provisional commission of Maj. Gen. Butler and assigned to Company F. He died at Wilmington, NC on Sept. 20, 1865.

While it is one of only two "colored" units in the county it appears that black veterans may have joined some of the other posts in the county. Contrary to the flat assertion of R. Brad Long in his error-filled book Collecting Grand Army of the Republic Memorabilia that "Regrettably, G.A.R. Posts were segregated", we have proof of both integrated and segregated posts. As noted earlier from the published works of A. C. Leonard, "In this organization there is perfect equality, no distinction being made on account of nationality, creed, color or politics. . .".

A photograph in the archives of the Lancaster County Historical Society of Lieut. David H. Nissley Post #478 in Mount Joy clearly shows William Jackson and Thomas Yellets, both men of color, wearing membership badges. The 1912 "Old Home Week" booklet for Manheim has photos of a similarly racially mixed membership in Gen. Heintzelman Post #300. In Strasburg, at one of the first meetings of Capt. J. N. Neff Post #406, on Feb. 12, 1884, a motion was made to allow colored veterans to join the post--the motion was tabled and each time it was brought up it was subsequently tabled. It appears that no decision was ever made and that none of the post's members were men of color.


John M. Good Post #502 was chartered on Aug. 4, 1886. In 1888 S. R. Nissley was post commander. When Dr. Samuel R. Nissley was again post commander in 1909 there were 16 active members. It retired its charter on June 9, 1926. While the record of this post is sparse it did appear to be quite active with a unit of the Women's Relief Corps and Gen. Miles Camp No. 26, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Camp No. 26 was formed before 1904 and folded between 1909 and 1916. The Women's Relief Corps came on the scene prior to 1890 and was no longer chartered in 1907.21

J. Richard Heisey, a lifelong resident of Elizabethtown, remembers from his boyhood, David Weidman, commander of the Sons of Veterans. Weidman was "a short, fat man with a big bushy mustache and pot belly. . .his nickname was 'Buffy', and with his uniform he looked like a commanding officer." He would drill his army of six each Friday night in the front yard of his butcher shop and all of the neighborhood kids would taunt them with shouts of "Buffy and his wooden soldiers". Manuscript Group 17 at the Lancaster County Historical Society contains a letter from North End Meat Market, D. K. Weidman, Prop., Elizabethtown dated Feb 17, 1905 to "Cmdr. Freed, Mt. Joy, PA" discussing Sons of Veterans business. While he signs it "D. K. Weidman, Q.M.S. [Quartermaster Sergeant] Camp #26" it does confirm a leadership position in the camp.

A 20 year old native of Lancaster County who is listed in his service record at the National Archives as a farmer and later as a fireman, John M. Good enlisted Sept. 2, 1864 at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, PA. His service was credited to Conoy Township, Lancaster County. He was killed "in front of Petersburg, VA" April 2, 1865, "by a gunshot through the head".


Winfield Scott Bireley and his twin, Zachary Taylor Bireley, were born Oct. 6, 1849 in Leacock Township, Lancaster County to George and Mary Kunkle Bireley. The Bireley's eventually had one daughter and seven sons--all seven boys served in the Union Army during the Rebellion.

Brother George W. , at the age of 29, enlisted on Sept. 2, 1864 and was mustered in to Company D, 203rd Regiment (Birney's Sharp Shooters). Six days later Winfield and Zachary, then 13, lied about their age and joined the same unit. They fought at Petersburg and Fort Fisher and after the capture of that stronghold George was wounded on the way to Wilmington, North Carolina, resulting in his ultimate discharge. At Wilmington the two remaining brothers in the unit were admitted to a field hospital with yellow fever. Zachary eventually recovered and returned home. Winfield died of yellow fever on April 14, 1865 at the age of 15 years, 6 months and 8 days (five days after Lee's surrender).

George was instrumental in the founding of W. S. Bireley Post #511 on March 1, 1886 with J. A. Stauffer as charter commander. The organizer was J. A. Nimlow from Post #84.22 Forty nine active members were on the rolls in 1906 and the post continues in the records until 1922. The Quarryville Sun regularly reported on the Memorial Day activities of the post. Early reports were simple mentions that the "W. S. Bireley Post G.A.R." had participated (as in 1897) but by 1899 more complete reports were being published. That year the service was held at the Wesley M. E. Church and the following members were in charge, along with their squads, at various locations: H. W. Brown, Jacob Fisher, George W. Bireley, Michael Wimer, Henry Phillips and Samuel McComsey. The following year the services were held in Quarryville Park.

The report of the 1900 ceremonies again slights the post with only a brief mention as the "G.A.R. Post of this place" but in the same June 1 issue it notes that "Henry W. Brown is the representative of W. S. Birely Post No. 511, G.A.R. to attend the reunion of the veterans at Gettysburg next week." The following year Harvey Seiple replaced Henry Phillips as a squad leader and it goes on to report that dinner was prepared by the "Ladies Auxiliary Corps" (probably the Women's Relief Corps which was formed in Quarryville about that time). By 1903 and 1904 the correct name was being used (the WRC apparently dis-banded in Quarryville in 1917).

W. S. Birely Camp No. 135, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was formed between 1909 and 1913 and still on the record in 1918. The New Era reports, on Jan. 6, 1920, a banquet was held of Sons of Veterans, including members of "Camp 45, Quarryville." There is nothing to explain the difference in numbers.


Historical and Pictorial Lititz by John G. Zook notes: "Pursuant to a call issued sometime previously twelve honorably discharged soldiers met at the Sturgis House, March 13, 1886, to consider the feasibility of organizing a Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. This preliminary meeting (followed by several others) finally resulted in Stevens Post, #517, G.A.R." Department Commander John P. S. Gobin came to Brobst's Hall on May 7, 1886 to conduct the installation. During its lifetime the post enrolled 73 members but by 1905 only eight remained active.

Stevens Post took advantage of the G.A.R. option to form a benevolent association and paid death benefits until May 7, 1898 when it split up the $1,154.50 then in the account. The post regularly decorated graves in Kissel Hill, Lexington, Brunnerville, Brickerville and Rothsville. 23

Brobst Camp No. 23, Sons of Veterans, was formed on Dec. 2, 1918. The camp charter was found hanging on the meeting room wall at Garden Spot Post 56 of the American Legion in Lititz. A report on a banquet of members of the Sons of Veterans in the Jan. 6, 1920 New Era includes a reference to "Camp 23, Lititz." The Feb. 2, 1922 edition of The Lititz Record, provides this additional insight:
There was a big attendance last evening at the Sons of Veterans meeting of the Brobst Camp No. 23, in Malta Temple. Some twenty candidates were mustered in by Divisional Commander C. F. Aume, and the degree team of Lancaster. Officers also were installed. Refreshments were served and several interesting addresses were made. Mr. Mastrson [sic][Divisional Organizer William P. Masterson] of Philadelphia has been in town for the past week helping to boost the lodge. The order will shortly be put on a beneficial basis.

[There was a time when the departments of the Sons of Veterans were re-named divisions and the commander was given the title of "Division Commander". The name and title have since reverted to department and "Department Commander".]

That year's Memorial Day activities included representatives of the G.A.R., Sons of Veterans and the American Legion. The following year the Memorial Day reporting listed the Sons of Veterans along with "half a dozen Civil War veterans, the remnants of a once big Post" and the growing American Legion. 1925 reports indicate that the Decoration Day activities were jointly sponsored by the American Legion and the Grand Army of the Republic--no mention is made of the Sons of Veterans.

At the March 3, 1927 meeting of Garden Spot Post 56, American Legion it was, "Moved and carried we adopt G.A.R. veterans".

On June 7, 1928 The Lititz Record reported, "Because of the scarcity of members the Post here disbanded last week." The front page article continued, "Once a flourishing organization of over fifty strong, there remain only five members, namely John Crall, William Mathers, Henry Wike, Hiram Demmy and Edwin Sturgis." Four other Civil War veterans were listed with the note that they were not members of the post, they were: Israel Bear, John Wommert, George Hackman and William Gable. The report went on to say:
In the heyday of Stevens Post, when Capt. John Bricker, Drs. Brobst and Roebuck, Samuel Seaber and others now dead were active, the Post held fairs and drilled regularly in the old malt house.

By the time Stevens Post #517 officially disbanded, on Sept. 29, 193024, American Legion Post 56 had taken over many of their traditional duties and the "boys in blue" were meeting at the Legion Home, where their records and supplies were also being kept. [The officers of the post allowed me to search through their storeroom for G.A.R. records but none were found. A banner reading "Post; 517; G.A.R" and the charter of Brobst Camp No. 23 were located and given to the Lancaster County Historical Society for conservation.]


Thirty veterans signed on July 1, 1886 according to the "Descriptive Book" of Lieut. David Leach Post #524 which is now in the archives of the Lancaster County Historical Society. J. B. Long of Post #405 was the installing officer at the mustering of the post.25 The charter officers were: Amaziah B. Benner, commander; John M. Stuber, senior vice commander; Daniel Irvin, junior vice commander; Thomas M. Moore, chaplain; Sam. S. Royer, quartermaster; Frank Stahl, surgeon; James Dennis, officer of the day; James Smith, officer of the guard; Wm. C. Heilig, adjutant; Andrew J. Killians, quartermaster sergeant and Wm. Halligan, sergeant major. The "Descriptive Book" is quite complete listing the service records of most members as well as suspensions, transfers and deaths. The last entry is a new member listing on Apr. 8, 1893. It disappears from department records around 1900. The post had a total of 111 members in its lifetime.

A copy of the By-Laws of the post--which were presented to John S. Hibsman on his muster into the post on April 14, 1888--are now in the library of the Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley in Ephrata. It includes a printed "Roll of Honor of Lieut. Leache Post, No. 524". The list is repeated here:

		1.  Benar, A. B., Com.		17.  Breneise, I.
		2.  Stuber, J. M., S.V.C.		18.  Hacker, E. K.
		3.  Irvin, D., J.V.C.		19.  Cooper, I.
		4.  Moore, T. M., Chap.		20.  Bechtel, J. L.
		5.  Royer, S. S., Q.M.		21.  Hacker, B. J.
		6.  Stahl, F., Surg.		22.  Gross, G. W.
		7.  Dennis, J., O.D.		23.  Beckley, S. L.
		8.  Smith, J., O.G.		24.  Mull, B. K.
		9.  Heilig, W. C., Adj't.		25.  Hacker, E.
		10.  Haligan, William, S.M.	26.  Kempf, H.
		11.  Killian, A., Q.S.		27.  Steininger, J.
		12.  Snyder, M. W.		28.  Gingerich, J.
		13.  Fahnestock, G. W. 		29.  Kellenberger, G. W.
		14.  Steffy, N.			30.  Winters, G. W.
		15.  Cox, T. L.			31.  Allbrecht, J. G.
		16.  Hacker, I. S.		32.  Mumma, D. B.

The May 31, 1889 edition of the Ephrata Review contains an item calling all members of the post to meet at Royer's Hall on May 30 to "join in the memorial service." [Dates are correct] The report was signed Will C. Heilig, Adjutant, by order of A. B. Benar, Post Commander. Just below that report is the following item headlined, "Attention Sons of Veterans".
All members of Serg't Hull Camp, No. 74 Sons of Veterans and sons of ex-soldiers, are requested to meet in Royer's Hall, at 12:30 o'clock on Thursday, May 30th, to join in the memorial service. By order of Captain E. F. Bard.
F. S. Klinger
First Sergeant

This post had a short, and apparently turbulent life. According to its minutes, Quartermaster S. S. Royer was accused of embezzling post funds and Adjutant W. C. Heilig was accused as an accessory in the crime. The post took them to court and won their case resulting in the dismissal of the two from the order. Within a year the post commander at that time ordered another review of the books and the committee determined that the charges had been "trumped up". The adjutant then took the case to the Department Commander and had the two reinstated. All the while members were joining, quitting and being reinstated on a regular basis and the officers were changing frequently. The following year, Adjutant R. W. Bickley took exception to a resolution passed at the Department Encampment in Lancaster and introduced a resolution citing the post's displeasure due to the discourteous way the unnamed subject was "vilified & vituperated in a most offensive manner". The motion carried but on Aug. 26, 1893, at the next meeting of the post, the resolution was expunged and Bickley resigned as adjutant. During the two-year period of this minute book the post met at three locations: Strohl's Hall, Bitzers' Hall and Mentzer Hall.


Formed on Nov. 3, 188726, Stewart Post #566 was deactivated in 1930.27 The May 23, 1904 edition of the Quarryville Sun reports on their Memorial Day plans.
Stewart Post will attend services in Rawlinsville M. E. church Sunday, May 29, when Rev. Frank Mack will preach a fitting sermon. The Memorial Day services of this post will be conducted in Mount Nebo M. E. church on May 30, commencing at 12 m [meridian]. Committees have been appointed to visit the twelve burial grounds under the supervision of the post, wherein rest the bodies of 102 comrades who have answered the last roll call. The services of this organization will be performed in the cemetery adjoining the church.

An ornate certificate of service for Albert Myers indicating that he was a member of Stewart Post #566, shows war scenes, a portrait of President Lincoln and the G.A.R. member badge. The certificate lists his military service record and indicates that he was honorably discharged. It was "Presented to Comrade Myers and their children. . .by his wife Jennie, Aug. 15th 1900." It is now in the possession of Myers' great grandson, Robert L. Myers Jr., a volunteer at the Lancaster County Historical Society.


Department records show that Capt. G. S. Hess Post #571 began on July 4, 188428 and was in operation until 192429 but this report from the Jan. 25, 1888 edition of the Daily New Era suggests another scenario:
James A. Nimlow, of Post 84, has been detailed by the State Department to institute a new post at Safe Harbor on the evening of February 4th. It will be known as Geo. M. Hess Post, No. 571, being named in honor of Captain Hess, who was killed in the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia.

Ellis & Evans lists Capt. George H. Hess among the men from Conestoga Township who served in the "war of the rebellion". According to Bates, he was commander of Company D, 30th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, First Reserve, having been mustered in on June 8, 1861 with most of the company. He died at Richmond, Virginia on July 4, 1862 of wounds received at Charles City Cross Roads on June 30 and is buried in the Reformed Cemetery in Safe Harbor.30

Educator, lawyer, farmer Peter C. Heller of Conestoga, PA wrote in his diary (a copy of which is at the Lancaster County Historical Society) on Wednesday, May 30, 1888:
First tobacco planting. Jac. and I planted 1560 tobacco plants this AM. Attended Decoration Day ceremonies this PM. There were 262 persons in line of parade. Attended by Post 571 and K.G. Eagle of Harbor and Republican League of Conestoga. Out town tonight.

In a Sept. 9, 1888 letter to Post #118 (on Post #571 notehead), Dan'l. W. Kendig invited them to a festival "to be held in the Companies Woods in Safe Harbor on Sept. 22nd. Our post being young and financially embarassed [sic] we take this mode of extricating ourselves hoping to greet many of our old comrades on the occasion". The letterhead says they met on the first and third Saturday nights of each month.

Reports of the Pennsylvania Department's Inspector General show the presence of a Sons of Veterans camp associated with this post.


In 1891 the printed roster of posts within the department erroneously listed this unit as being in Lancaster County. Finding this began a year-long, and fruitless, search for Uniontown, Lancaster County. The post only existed for a short time and eventually we located other department records which correctly placed this post in Fayette County. In the same report we learned that it was a "colored" post and was disbanded in 1886. It is included here only to save future researchers the effort.


Leroy T. Hopkins Jr. writing in "No Balm in Gilead: Lancaster's African-American Population and the Civil War Era" (Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society, Vol. 95, No. 1, 1993), reports that ". . .about three hundred men of color associated with Lancaster County have been identified as having served sometime between 1862-67 in all eleven of the U.S.C.T. regiments mustered in Pennsylvania as well as the Massachusetts 5th and the famous 54th and 55th Volunteers."

Sergeant Benn Post #607 was formed originally in Lancaster on Jan. 28, 1892,31 it later moved to Columbia where, on December 31, 1909 it turned in its charter.

Sergeant Joel Benn had recruited men from the Christiana area for the 1st Pennsylvania Colored Volunteers, most of whom were then enrolled in the 3rd U. S. Colored Regiment (often referred as U. S. Colored Troops). He was mustered in to Company B of the 3rd U. S. Colored on June 30, 1863 along with Jerome Benn who was elected a corporal (Ellis and Evans lists both men as corporals but Bates has the ranks correct). Joel was killed in action on March 10, 1865 in Marion County, Florida and Jerome was mustered out with the company on Oct. 31, 1865. An interesting item in the Company Muster Roll for July and August 1863 under the name of Joel Benn says:
Appt'd. Sergt. July 4, 1863. Absent with leave, detained by civil authority since Aug. 13.

The incorporators of the post were: William Proctor, Jonathan Sweeney, Simon Molson, John H. H. Butler, George Hall, Edward B. Harris, Edward Wilson, George Richardson, Anthony Maxwell, Samuel Jackson, Bernard Sweeney, George Turner, Levi Anderson and David Molson. Also, John M. Book, John Johnson, Henry Barber, Jacob Moore, Steven Duban, David Offord, James Thomas, Zachariah Snively, John Stotts, John M. Lebar, Charles Green and Wesley Green. They represented the 3rd, 8th, 24th, 25th, 41st, 43rd and 45th U. S. Colored Troops.32

Meeting first at 42 N. Queen Street, by 1898 they were meeting in Bethel's Hall at 525 Chester Street. In 1900 the post relocated to 503 North Street but when it closed in 1909 the post was meeting at the Odd Fellows' Hall on Concord near 5th St. in Columbia. In 1892 and 1893, Sergeant Benn Post #607 was listed as a co-sponsor of the annual Memorial Day exercises in Lancaster along with posts #84 and #405. The following year, Post #84 was the sole sponsor.


Two members of Lancaster County posts are known to have served national office. Capt. John P. Rea a charter member of Post #84 in Lancaster moved to Minnesota where he became department commander in 1883 and in 1888 was elected Commander-in-Chief of the G.A.R. The report of the reception hosted by Post #84 for the visiting Commander-in-Chief from the Jan. 21, 1888 edition of The Lancaster Inquirer says:
Fulton Opera House, where the exercises were held, was completely packed. Governor Beaver had been selected to preside, and in his opening address remarked that with the thermometer at 30 degrees below zero and eighteen feet of snow on the ground, Commander Rea had selected the proper time to come east.

Washington F. Hambright, a charter member of Post #405 in Lancaster was the Adjutant General for Samuel P. Town of Philadelphia when he served as Commander-in-Chief in 1931. Hambright had been department commander in 1922-1923 and William D. Stauffer, of Post #84, held that position in 1897-1899. Hugh R. Fulton, Post #405, tried twice (1908 and 1908) for election to Department Commander and failed on both occasions even though he was a Past Post Commander and Past Commander of the Central Pennsylvania G.A.R. Association. Department senior vice commanders from Lancaster County were: Jacob K. Barr, Post #84, 1879; J. H. Druckenmiller, Post #226, Marietta, 1886; H. R. Brenneman, Post #84, 1904-1905 and Martin R. Good, Post #405, 1931-1932.

While not from Lancaster County, John P. S. Gobin, of Lebanon County, who served as department commander in 1886, had been admitted to the Lancaster Bar in 1871.

According to Pennsylvania Department records, Department Encampments were held in Lancaster on Jan. 27, 1874; Feb. 6, 1884; June 11, 1920 and June 10, 1932. A booklet in the archives of the Lancaster County Historical Society for the Fifty-third Annual Encampment of the Department of Pennsylvania, G.A.R. lists a committee consisting of: Honorary Chairman and Past Department Commander W. D. Stauffer; Chairman W. F. Hambright, Treasurer Hugh R. Fulton and Secretary Charles E. Aument. Representatives from both posts, the Womens' Relief Corps, Ladies of the G.A.R. and Camp 19, Sons of Veterans filled out the committee.


By the time the 1880s rolled around, many in the G.A.R. began to realize that their membership--restricted to veterans of the "late rebellion"--would eventually disappear. They wanted a permanent membership base which would carry on the work of the G.A.R. and thus was formed the lineal Sons of Veterans. Eventually the organization became known as the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Post #84 was again first in the county to form such a unit when a charter was issued to Camp No. 19 on Mar. 11, 1882 by Adjutant John L. Stewart of Philadelphia.33

Among Post #84's more than 500 members was Sgt. Charles H. Fasnacht formerly of Company H, 99th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, who, while serving as a first lieutenant was awarded the Medal of Honor.34 In a brief side note, Sgt. Fasnacht's grandson and great-grandson, Clair and Scott Fasnacht, both joined the Gen. George H. Thomas Camp No. 19, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in 1994, bringing at least one family full circle.

When the Department of Pennsylvania encampment was held in Lancaster in 1919, the following members of Camp 19 were on the committee: Ivan D. Bair, John Bartholomae, Harry C. Stamm, Edward Keemer, A. J. Troop, J. Edward Mack, Walter Myers and Benj. F. Stamm.

One of this camp's members, George W. Long, served as national Commander-in-Chief of the order in 1990 and 1991. He is a second generation member of the camp whose parents, Gloid and Anna Long, were very active in the local organization.

County-wide, at least thirteen posts had sponsored a camp of Sons, although little is known about most of them. Post #84 sponsored Gen. George H. Thomas Camp No. 19 while Post #118 in Columbia appears to have hosted both Maj. Edwin A. Kelsey Camp No. 68 and later Gen. Welsh Camp No. 68. Post # 152 in Lincoln and Post #226 in Marietta are credited with a unit of the Sons of Veterans. Department records show a Camp also affiliated with Post #405, Lancaster, while in Strasburg, Post #406 hosted Capt. J. N. Neff Camp No. 46. Capt. Snow Post #461, Pleasant Grove, reportedly has a Sons group and Post 478, Mt. Joy, supported Lieut. David H. Nissley Camp No. 74. Gen. Miles Camp No. 26 in Elizabethtown was sponsored by Post #502 of that town. Down in Quarryville, W. S. Birely Post #511 sponsored its namesake Camp No. 135, while in Lititz, the local Post #517 had Brobst Camp No. 23. In Ephrata, Serg't Hull Camp No. 74 was active under Post 524 and in Safe Harbor, Post #571 was known to sponsor a camp.

If the record of the camps is limited, the information on their auxiliaries is even more difficult to find. The history of the Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War requires a lot of research. Auxiliary 19 is the only remaining representative of this order continuing to operate in Lancaster County. While presently a small organization, the local auxiliary is quite active at the department and national levels.

Post #84, Post #118 and Post #406 were apparently served by the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic which is extinct in Lancaster County but active "circles" continue throughout the state and nation. The Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic Home, near Pittsburgh, currently provides respite housing for its aging members.

In the Proceedings of the Nineteenth Annual Convention of the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Pennsylvania, held at Gettysburg on June 7 - 9, 1904, only one circle is shown in Lancaster County. The John A. Hogendobler Circle No. 116 in Columbia was listed with Annie Bowers as president. Past presidents of the circle were Annie Shank, Maggie Dumbar, Sarah Wike, Ella Dumbar, Annie Warrell, Catharine Johnson and Emma Hogendobler. All were recorded as absent from the convention. The only other evidence of this circle is a bill to Gen. Welsh Post #118 for cleaning the post's meeting room--the bill is dated June 21, 1904 and included the seal of the circle. The fee was $5 and it is recorded as paid. The 1916 G.A.R. department proceedings record a circle associated with Post #118 and suggests that a circle was active in Strasburg, but we have been unable to find any information on that circle.

Col. Emlin M. Franklin Circle No. 171's first initiate appears to have been Daisy Detterline, daughter of Private Henry J. Young, Co. G., 79th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The circle was organized Aug. 11, 1910 with 21 charter members, according to their 1931 Souvenir booklet. A badge in the collection of the Lancaster County Historical Society provides another clue to this organization as the inscription on the reverse says:

JAN 8, 1935
JAN. 14, 1936.

The last member to join, on Dec. 7, 1971, was G. Louise Renkin, great granddaughter of Pvt. William Wilson Renkin, Co. E., 2nd PVI. A final notation in the record says, "9 members 1979".

For the 53rd Encampment of the Department of Pennsylvania G.A.R. in Lancaster in 1919 the Ladies of the G.A.R. were represented on the committee by: Daisy Detterline, Lydia Black, Margaret Sommers, Lola Flemming, Dalia Lebkicker and Estella Stumpf.

A souvenir booklet printed for the 46th Annual Encampment of the Ladies of the G.A.R., held in Lancaster June 7-11, 1931, lists anecdotes and the names of the local circle's presidents. To that date the presidents of Col. Emlen Franklin Circle No. 171 had been: Elizabeth Irwin Herr, Daisy M. Detterline (the only surviving charter member in 1931), Sedalia Lebkicher, Lillian E. Rauch, Margaret Yohn, Mary E. Mylin, Cora M. Mylin and Mina M. Rohrer.

As noted earlier, the 1904 convention lists only one circle in the county, but it also lists a Gen. Geo. H. Thomas Circle in Pittsburgh and an Admiral Wm. Reynolds Circle in Philadelphia. The use of local posts' names in other parts of the state could cause some confusion.

Another allied order once active in this county was the Women's Relief Corps with perhaps five units--one each in Lancaster (#77), Elizabethtown (#91), Quarryville, Lincoln and Christiana. The report of the Department Inspector in the Proceedings of the 54th and 55th Encampments (1893 and 1894) report other WRC units in the county. Maj. Ricksecker Post #152, in Lincoln, and Wm. Roberts Post #487, in Christiana, are both credited with WRC units. Admiral Reynolds Post #405 also appears to have sponsored a WRC unit. From the compiled information the author suspects that, in Lancaster, Post #84 was sponsor of the Ladies of the G.A.R. and Post #405 hosted the Women's Relief Corps.

The Daily New Era tells us that the WRC was active in Lancaster in 1888 as this report from the May 18 edition indicates:
The Memorial Day Committee met on Thursday evening, when it was reported that two companies of Soldiers' Orphans (75 boys) from Mount Joy would take part in the parade in this city [Lancaster]. They will be entertained by the Woman's Relief Corps of the Grand Army, the President of which organization--Mrs. Hennecke--will gladly receive contributions from the citizens toward the big dinner which it is proposed to give the boys.

In 1919, Past Department President Mame E. Smith, Ella Fox, Elizabeth Diller, Agnes Kuhns, Ada Patterson and Mary Bard represented the WRC on the committee for the department encampment held that year in Lancaster.

The Women's Relief Corps is unique among the allied orders in that membership is open to any woman who ascribes to its ideals. It is the only one not requiring an hereditary connection to a Civil War soldier, sailor or Marine. The Women's Relief Corps was the official women's auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic. While a national organization still exists, its membership is quite small, the Pennsylvania Department has been disbanded and no units are active in Lancaster County at this time.

According to the un-published history of the Pennsylvania Department of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, there were three Tents of Daughters which once served in Lancaster County. Post #84 requested the formation of the first Tent in the county and on April 3, 1894, Rebecca Price Tent #39 was formed in Lancaster. It survived until 1959.

Rosina Hubley Tent #45 was organized at Strasburg on June 17, 1932. The tent was named in honor of one of the leaders of the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster which was active in raising money to support our troops and provide them comfort during the war. Tent #45 gave up its charter in 1958.

A second tent began in Lancaster when Sarah Ann Huber Tent #47 was formed on June 14, 1934. This tent had the longest tenure of the three as it lasted until 1989. At that time some of the members transferred to Mammy Ruggles Tent #50 in York.

A reference to Tents #34 [sic] and #47 of the Daughters of Union Veterans tells us that they participated in a 1941 Memorial Day service in Lancaster.


The "Boys in Blue" became the men of power. Their strength was such that they influenced the legal, political and social structure of the nation for more than three quarters of a century--for more than a third of the lifetime of the nation. Political parties first sought the endorsement of the G.A.R. before nominating candidates and five "G.A.R. Presidents" attest to that power. Locally, the names cited in this article form the basis for the structure of power in Lancaster County.

The outline of organization would be used by other veterans of other wars to create social and political blocks for their own benefit and in general terms--the betterment of the community.

But never again would our nation face the immersion of war that was "the late rebellion". Never again would the soldier be as universally respected. Their purpose was recovery, their creed was "Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty". Their desire was that their struggle should not be forgotten and A. C. Leonard's preface to The Boys in Blue sums up that desire:
"The Boys in Blue" is published, not with a desire to keep alive the animosity engendered by the Civil War (perish the thought!), but with "malice to none," as an object lesson in patriotism and reminder of what thousands of the rank and file of the great Army of the Republic endured, in order that the present and future generations might continue to enjoy the blessing of ONE COUNTRY AND ONE FLAG.


1. Franklin Ellis and Samuel Evans, History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Everts & Peck, Philadelphia, 1883, 496
2. Wakefield Column , Quarryville Sun, June 7, 1901
3. Minute Book of G.A.R. Post #84, Manuscript Group 17, Grand Army of the Republic, Lancaster County Historical Society, unpublished
4. R. L. Polk & Co., Directory of Lancaster, Pa., 1931, 639
5. C. E. Howe Co,. Lancaster City and County Directory, Philadelphia, 1882-1993, 405
6. Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London, 1989, 550-551
7. Ellis and Evans, loc. cit., 581
8. Manuscript Group 18, Civil War, Lancaster County Historical Society, unpublished, Box 3, Folder 97, Item 1
9. Ellis and Evans, loc. cit., 636
10. Warner, loc. cit., 228
11. Old Home Week & Hope Hose Co. Centennial, Manheim, 1912, 50-51
12. Ellis and Evans, loc. cit., 100
13. Ibid., 757
14. Assistant Adjutant General's Report, Headquarters, Department of Pennsylvania, Grand Army of the Republic. . ., Feb. 16, 1884
15. Memorial Day brochure 1941, Manuscript Group 17, Grand Army of the Republic, Lancaster County Historical Society, unpublished, Box 3, Folder 32
16. Professor Horace R. Barnes, Rear Admiral William Reynolds a Distinguished Lancastrian 1815-1879, Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society, Vol. 38, 61-66
17. Minute Book, Capt. J. N. Neff Post 406, Grand Army of the Republic, Strasburg, PA, Dec. 31, 1883, manuscript
18. Veterans' Grave Registration Record, Works Progress Administration, Ca. 1936, unpublished, at Lancaster County Historical Society, Vol. 1, 509
19. Assistant Adjutant General's Report, loc. cit., Aug. 16, 1884
20. H. M. J. Klein, Ph.D., Editor, Lancaster County Pennsylvania, A History, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York and Chicago, 1924, 303
21. Assistant Adjutant General's Report, loc. cit., June 9, 1926
22. Assistant Adjutant General's Report, loc. cit., July 6, 1886
23. Klein, loc. cit., 256
24. Manuscript Group 60, Grand Army of the Republic, State Archives of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, Unpublished
25. Assistant Adjutant General's Report, loc. cit., July 6, 1886
26. Assistant Adjutant General's Report, loc. cit., July 11, 1887
27. Assistant Adjutant General's Report, loc. cit., June 9, 1931
28. Assistant Adjutant General's Report, loc. cit., July 4, 1888
29. Assistant Adjutant General's Report, loc. cit., June 11, 1924
30. Veterans' Grave Registration Record, loc. cit., Vol. 1, 288
31. Leroy T. Hopkins Jr., Ph.D., No Balm In Gilead: Lancaster's African-American Population and the Civil War Era, Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society, Vol. 95, No. 1, Winter 1993
32. Ibid.
33. Klein, loc. cit., 1064
34. Ibid., 1145


Glenn B. Knight, a native of Lititz, is the great-grandson of William J. Knight who was a private in Company L, 21st Penna. Cavalry, from Chambersburg. He is the grandson of John Baptist Knight who was a member of Gen. George H. Thomas Camp #19, Sons of Union Veterans. He is the son of Glenn F. Knight, a veteran of World War II and a life member of the same camp. He was a sergeant in the Marine Corps and retired from the Air Force before becoming the Executive Director of the Lancaster County Historical Society. His son, Christopher is a 4th generation member of Camp #19. The writer is presently Senior Vice Commander of the Department of Pennsylvania, Sons of Union Veterans, having previously served as commander of Camp #19.

REPUBLISHED in this form with the permission of the copyright holder: Lancaster County Historical Society.

Reprints are available for $5.00 plus $2.50 postage (plus 6% sales tax for residents of Pennsylvania) from:

Lancaster County Historical Society
230 N. President Ave.
Lancaster, PA 17603

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