I will be presenting Kilpatrick Family Ties at the Ohio County Public Library, Fifty-two 16th St, Wheeling, WV, on October 18, 2016. This is part of their Lunch with Books series, and start time is at noon. This is a fun program, and I’m looking forward to doing it again. Hope to see some of you there!
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Tags: Articles, Kilpatrick Family Ties, Lunch with Books, Ohio County Public Library, Speaking
Categories : Articles, Family Ties, Speaking
I had a great time presenting Kilpartick Family Ties to a nice crowd of about seventy-five at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie, PA this past Saturday. It’s always a boost to see the venue scramble for additional seating before a talk begins. Diane Klinefleter, the curator of the Library’s Civil War Room, puts on great events there known as the Second Saturday Lecture Series. If you’re local, or even if you’re not, you should check it out.
A lot of what was included in the program has been covered here in some fashion in the past, but a good bit has not. If your group is interested in hearing this program, let me know.
Thanks to everyone who showed up, including Seton LaSalle High School history teacher Mr. K., who assigned the lecture to his AP students as extra credit and had about eighteen turn up. Just doing my part to help turn Bs into As.
The room itself displays original prints of one hundred of the known photographs of Abraham Lincoln. And an adjacent room is a fully restored Grand Army of the Potomac post. Follow the links and check them out.
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Tags: Articles, Kilpatrick Family Ties, Speaking
Categories : Articles, Family Ties, Speaking, Uncategorized
On this day 150 years ago, my great-grandfather Pvt. John B. Smeltzer stepped off with his comrades of Co. C, 205th PA Volunteer Infantry, in their assault on Battery 30, part of the defenses of Petersburg near Ft. Mahone. John, of Hopewell Township, Bedford County, had enlisted on August 24th, 1864 at the age of 18 years 8 months, and served until mustered out with his regiment at Alexandria, VA, on June 2nd, 1865. He was wounded in the leg during the assault. After the war he was employed as a coal miner and steelworker, married Hannah Virginia Gates, and fathered 8 children including my grandfather, Harry Gates Smeltzer. He lived variously in Bedford County, McKeesport in Allegheny County, PA, and for 6 months at the Soldiers’ Home in Dayton, OH, before returning to Hopewell where he died on Sept. 22, 1923, at the age of 77. He is buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery in Yellow Creek, Bedford County, PA, next to his granddaughter Pauline.
Update: Friend and Sesquicentennial tourist extraordinaire Craig Swain took this photo of the site of Battery 30 today:
Apparently, (and according to Craig who also took these snaps) great-grandpa had to charge past the dumpster by the Pizza Hut,
and through the playground,
to take that flower bed.
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Tags: Articles, Ft. Mahone, John B. Smeltzer, Petersburg
Categories : Articles, Family Ties
Long-time readers may recall my first (and last) Bull Run Threads trivia question regarding the connection between the First Battle of Bull Run and the U. S. Open Tennis championships (see here), and the answer to that question (see here.)
Recently I came across an old photo of the trivia subject in action, and share it here with the owner’s permission, and courtesy of the Guiteras Family Archives:
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Tags: Articles, Bull Run Trivia, Henry Slocum, U. S. Open Tennis Championship
Categories : Articles, Family Ties, Trivia
A while back I posted this photo of Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton. As if there could ever be a time when the posting of a photo of Kate Upton – weightless, by the way – would be anything less than appropriate, I mentioned in that post that I really had no idea what she had to do with the First Battle of Bull Run, or even with the Civil War. Egged on once again by Craig Swain and my own insatiable thirst for page-views for the sake of page-views, ten grueling minutes of online research bore ample fruit. Get out your notebooks.
The easiest and most obvious potential connection of Ms. Upton to the subject of this blog is through her name. A graduate of the U. S. Military Academy’s Class of May, 1861, Lt. Emory Upton served as an aide-de-camp to Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler at the First Battle of Bull Run. Google search = Kate Upton Emory Upton.
I know Wikipedia is a bad word, but I also know it’s a great place to start. Per Wiki, Frederick and Louis Upton of Battle Creek, MI, along with their uncle, Emory, founded the Upton Machine Co. in 1911. This company incorporated an electric motor in a washing machine for the first time. At this site, I found the photos below:
I also found this unidentified image on the same page:
At Find-a-Grave I found an entry for an Emory Upton who is buried in Battle Creek, MI, who was the uncle of Louis and Frederick Upton, and co-founder with them of what would eventually become Sears appliance supplier Whirlpool Corp. Is the above photo Emory? I’m figuring yes, because the Find-a-Grave entry notes:
Besides being an inventor of machines, Upton loved music. He was an accomplished tuba, valve trombone and baritone player and performed with the municipal band in St. Joseph. A high point in Upton’s musical life was when John Phillip Sousa took his U.S. Marine Band on a U.S. tour and, right before a concert in St. Joseph, held auditions and chose Emory Upton to play with the band in that night’s concert (a story related by his grandson, Dr. Edward Atwood, to the Herald Palladium).
Whirlpool Corp, by the way, is still headquartered in Benton Harbor, MI. The neighboring communities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are served by the same newspaper, the Herald Palladium. Kate Upton was born in St. Joseph, MI. She is by many different accounts the great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Upton. I found out some other interesting things about Ms. Upton. For instance, did you know she is a world’s champion western style horseback rider? Think of that next time you see this:
So, I’ve connected dear Kate to Emory Upton. But if you know anything about the army officer Upton, you know that the 1911 founding date just doesn’t jive, because he took his own life in San Francisco in 1881. And Whirlpool Emory was born in 1865. But the Find a Grave entry also mentions that the tuba player was a nephew of Major General (his Civil War brevet rank – he was a regular army colonel at his death) Emory Upton.
Some of the other sites I visited, trying to confirm this, were unclear. Then I went to Ancestry.com, where everything clicked. This family tree explains things (the link will only work if you have an account, I think.) Colonel Upton was the son of Daniel and Electra Randall Upton. He was born in Batavia, NY. He had a brother, Stephen, also born in Batavia, who died in Battle Creek, MI. Stephen had sons Emory – the tuba/washing machine guy – and Cassius, both born in Battle Creek. And Cassius was the father of Louis and Frederick.
And there you have it. “Our” Emory Upton was the uncle of the uncle (tuba/washing machine guy Emory) of Kate Upton’s great-great-grandfather (Frederick, Louis’s brother.)
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2015 home opener is against Kate’s boyfriend Justin Verlander’s Detroit Tigers. I am a season-ticket holder. Kate, if you’d like to do a meet and greet with me before, during, or after the game, you can have your people get in touch with mine via the contact info over to the right. Or through the comments section of this post.
I sincerely hope this puts to rest the absurd notion that my earlier post on Kate Upton and her weightless romp was somehow frivolous.
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Tags: Articles, Emory Upton, Fun Stuff, Kate Upton, Preservation, Presque Isle, Upton Family Ties
Categories : Articles, Family Ties, Preservation
A while back I received a book, Your Affectionate Son: Letters from a Civil War Soldier, from its author, Milann Ruff Daugherty. I wrote about it here. As you read (if you followed the hyperlinked “here”), at about the same time I received some news from my friend Mike regarding some relatives about whom I was unaware. That’s the normal relationship between my ancient relatives and me, by the way, unawareness. Of particular interest was Pvt. James Gates, 8th PA Reserves, mortally wounded at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, died a month later at Smoketown Hospital just north of the battlefield, buried in the national cemetery in Sharpsburg. He served in the same company as the letter writer in Ms. Daugherty’s book. As some of you may be aware, I’m a board member and vice-president of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation, so my interest in the battle and battlefield is more than passing.
Upon learning of this more tangible relationship with the event, I felt compelled to take a drive down to Maryland (by way of Gettysburg, of course) over the President’s Day holiday back in February. I first drove out to the portion of the field where the 8th PA Reserves saw action. Then I met up with friend Craig Swain and his aide-de-camp Cade Swain and visited my great-great-uncle (how come there’s no “grand” for uncles and aunts?) in the cemetery and took in the million-dollar view of the battlefield from the back of that place. After lunch I drove over to chief historian Ted Alexander’s office near the Pry House. Ted graciously came in on his day off and so I could rummage through the park’s file on the 8th PA Reserves. It was pretty thin, but contained a series of newspaper articles from the turn-of-the-20th century, memoirs of a member of the 8th PA Reserves. In several of those articles, my g-g-uncle played a role, and from the perspective of the history of the battle and battlefield, it was a pretty high-profile role. After making copies (though I’m sure I missed some good stuff and will have to go back), Ted drove me out to the site of the Smoketown hospitals where James died.
The long and short of it is that I took some good photos and got some great info, but I still want to do some more digging before I present my findings to you, dear readers. I hope that when I do post the piece here you all won’t mind the slight diversion from Bull Run.
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Tags: 8th PA Reserves, Ancestors, Antietam, Articles, Descendants, Save Historic Antietam Foundation
Categories : Articles, Family Ties
I prefer to use the words of the Zen philosopher Leon Spinks: “Freaky Deaky.”
This is a little convoluted, so bear with me.
A few years ago I learned (from a total stranger via a gen group for the Smeltzer line) that my great-grandfather, John B. Smeltzer, served in the 205th PA Infantry and was wounded during the Petersburg breakthrough in 1865. You see, most of my family, if we’re interested in genealogy at all, have always focused on my mother’s side of the family, I think because her father was from Ireland and we have always identified ourselves as “Irish”. We went to the Irish school and the Irish church (as opposed to the German, Polish, Italian, Croatian, or Greek churches and schools in our little town). Yes, with a name like mine that has required a lot of explanation over the years, but my dad was in fact president of our local AOH, and I have the throne from the now defunct group in my garage right now to prove it.
Given my interest in the Civil War, this was pretty cool news to me. I haven’t done much other than get his pension file from NARA (for some reason I forgot to order his service record) and locate his grave in Vicksburg Cemetery in Roaring Springs, PA – though I have yet to visit it (UPDATE – good thing I didn’t visit, as he is actually buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery in Hopewell, PA, Bedford County.) I learned from the gen group that John was born in 1846, his father’s name was Joseph and his mother was Susan. He had, IIRC, four siblings. It looks like he signed up when he turned 18. Later in life, he suffered from pretty much the same physical maladies as do I. Weird how that works.
OK, fast forward a few years and here’s where it gets freaky.
A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Milann Ruff Daugherty. She had found a collection of her great-great-uncle’s letters and published them, and wanted to know if I’d be so kind as to review the book here. I informed her, as I inform everyone, that if it was a novel I was not interested, but if it was truly non-fiction and Civil War focused I’d be happy to take a look, and at worst I’d give it a preview. Not long after, Your Affectionate Son: Letters from a Civil War Soldier arrived in the mailbox. I glanced through it and noticed that, while the letters had some good stuff, the letters that have the really good stuff, written before, during, or just after big engagements, were missing (or, less likely, had never been written: really, how affectionate could a son be if he didn’t write home after a battle, if only to let his folks know he was OK?). So I put it aside with the intent of writing said preview when I had the time.
Jump forward about a week. I received an unrelated email from my good buddy and battlefield stomping pard Mike Pellegrini:
Hope all is well with you and your family. Found something on Ancestry.com that might interest you, see attachments for JB Smetlzer. On another note, why haven’t you mentioned your other CW ancestors, one being buried at Antietam NMP Cemetery?
Huh? I too subscribe to Ancestry.com, but simply haven’t had the time to use it much other than to trace down various individuals about whom I write. Really haven’t done anything much with my own family. So I responded to Mike that the reason I never told him was that I never knew. I got this in return:
John Smeltzer’s wife Hannah Virginia Gates had a few brothers: James Gates Co F, 8 PA reserves aka 37th PA died of wounds 16 Oct. 1862 at Smoketown or he died during the battle depending which web site you want to believe and is buried in the Nat Cemetery.
I know a little about Antietam (since I’m on the board of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation I better know a little), and recognize Smoketown as a place where many Union wounded were sent after the battle to recover. Or, as in the sad case of James Gates, to not recover. A quick web search turned up this photo of his headstone, for the above use of which I thank Sharon Murray.
My great-great-uncle James Gates is buried in grave #3717 in Antietam National Cemetery. When I saw this photo I was immediately reminded of something my father said on occasion. His father, John’s son, was named Harry Gates Smeltzer. My father’s mother’s maiden name was Dorr. So my dad quipped, “My father was a Gates, my mother was a Dorr, and I was the Grand Slam.” OK, you had to be there.
Mike hepped me to a little more info on my Gates ancestors:
The Gates family goes way back. I saw a Rev war soldier and it looks like the town of Gatesburg was named for them: it’s out by State College [PA].
Damn, can you imagine me as an SAR? Or my sisters walking into a DAR meeting? I’d PAY to see that! I mean, I suspect that I was perhaps descended from a Rev War soldier, but always thought it most likely would have been from one of the Hessians who stayed here after the war (yes, a couple of them were Smeltzers).
The last little tidbit is even better. I asked Mike if any of my great-grandfather Smeltzer siblings were in the war:
JBS did not have any soldier siblings, but there appears to be a step brother KIA at South Mountain, William Harker Co. E 8th PA Reserves.
[Hmmm…there’s that regiment again. Maybe this explains how John B. met Hannah! Wait a minute – step brother?]
When I started looking for siblings I found JBS living with a Miller family in the 1850 & 60 census, so I thought maybe he was orphaned. Next I tried looking at some existing family trees that were posted and here’s what I found: Joseph Smeltzer [my great-great grandfather] married Susan Barley and they had 5 children before she passed about 1850 (then i saw the Joe S and 2 kids living with the Strayer family & JBS with the Miller’s on the same 1850 census page) I guess splitting up the kids with different families was common when the mother of young children passed so the father could still go to work, that happened in my family when one of my great grandmothers died. Joe then married Mary Ann Harker (who had 4 kids of her own). Joe & Mary went on to have 6 more kids. It was like the Brady Bunch on steroids! So it looks like you have hundreds of relatives.
Wow. I’m really indebted to Mike for all this info.
So, I think so far you’ll agree this has been freaky, right?
But I also promised you deaky.
Something about the 8th PA Reserves struck me as familiar, and I looked down to my right as I was typing away during these exchanges and saw Your Affectionate Son. And wouldn’t you know, Millan Ruff Daugherty’s great-great uncle James Cleaver was a lieutenant in the 8th PA reserves (AKA 37th PA Volunteer Infantry, but the Reserves were a proud bunch and liked to go by their Reserves unit number – add 29 to the Reserves number and you get the PAVI number). Not only that, he was in Company F, my great-great uncle’s company. James’s name appears in a roster in the back of the book.
Now, that’s deaky, which makes this whole thing Freaky Deaky.
Stay tuned – more to follow. Your Affectionate Son will be getting a closer look than I at first thought.
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Tags: 8th PA Reserves, Ancestors, Antietam, Articles, James Gates, John B. Smeltzer
Categories : Articles, Family Ties