Camp Martin Travels

These entries will be a combination of historical day trips, graduate level travel courses, and just little stops along the way. I have been teaching 8th grade American History for over 25 years. I am also a Civil War Reenactor and have traveled to Germany and Austria with several groups of exchange students and written about our adventures. Please check all my posts by using the monthly Blog Archive tabs shown below. I have posted over 150 Blog Episodes since 2009... Please explore them all!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Terre Hill / In Search of David Lichty


In Search of David Lichty
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Terre Hill / Pennsylvania

My Uncle, Homer Martin, has always been the family historian and over the past few years we began doing some digging together through the family records.  We were able to determine one of our ancestors, David Lichty, who is my great-great-grandfather, was a veteran of the Civil War, serving with the 122nd Pennsylvania Vol. Co. C recruited out of Lancaster County in 1863.  He was from the small town of Terre Hill, Pennsylvania and at the age 18, volunteered for a nine month enlistment to help defend the state capital of Harrisburg as Lee's Confederate forces threatened to move north.  He reported to Camp Curtin for training, but soon the unit was sent south to Washington D.C. to help protect the nation's capital instead.  He soon saw action at the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville and mustered out with his company in May of 1863.  We are very fortunate to have the picture of him in his uniform shown above.

 122nd Muster Roll Sheet
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Two years ago, I was able to get some behind the scenes access to the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg and was able to seek out some artifacts associated with my great-great-grandfather and the PA 122nd regiment.  First, the museum commission was in the process of restoring many of their Civil War records and I was able to get them to pull the original muster sheets of the PA 122nd where I could see David Lichty's signature when he first enlisted.   It was a special moment to be able to look at his name in his own hand writing, where he agreed to sign up to join the Union Army.  I was not able to take a close up picture of the sheets due to museum policy but I did get a distant shot through the locked glass door shown above.

Civil War Flag Museum of PA
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I also was able to see the Civil War Flag Museum of Pennsylvania.   The state of Pennsylvania was the only state during the war that provided and owned all the flags for their regiments and companies.   After the war, they asked for them to be returned and stored them in the Capital Building in Harrisburg.  They were later moved to a new location, but not one you might imagine.  The museum is only open through appointment and is located in a neglected warehouse in an economically depressed part of town.  I thought we were in the wrong place but we had the right address!   Sure enough, we were met by a representative from the museum, and after climbing the aging, rust stained steps, we entered a modern climate controlled room, where over 400 flags are carefully preserved.  They are filed away on individual trays and you can ask to see specific flags of the army and cavalry from the Civil War and Spanish American War.  The flagstaffs are also preserved in racks...  The damage of war is often found within the silk and wood. Some are in better condition than others.   For more information visit... http://cpc.state.pa.us/cpcweb/flags_tours.jsp

 Terre Hill Town Cemetery Gate
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My real quest was now to find him and his grave marker somewhere in Lancaster County.  Through the research efforts of my Uncle Homer, I had a copy of the obituary record of David Lichty from the Ephrata Review's issue from April 15, 1910.   After the war, he returned to Lancaster County, living in the city and later returning to Terre Hill where he lived out the rest of his life.  The church and cemetery listed in the newspaper, where he was buried, no longer exists in name today.  The only thing to do was to visit every church and cemetery in the Terre Hill area and search stone by stone.  I was going to need some legs, so I grabbed my son Tyler and his friend Alex for a little adventure, searching through gardens of stone.

 My Great-Grandfather is Found
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We started out in each cemetery in the older sections, where the stones were dated within the time frame we we looking for and worked through the rows.   We had gone through two large cemeteries and I was beginning to think we were on a wild goose chase.  We had one more place to check, the cemetery behind Saint Paul's United Methodist Church.  The main gate looked like something out of an old western movie but seemed like it might have been a general cemetery for the entire area at one time. My energetic helpers raced up and down the rows searching for any names resembling David L. Within about fifteen minutes, Alex yelled out that he thought he might have found something and sure enough, David Lichty was now found and the mystery was solved.

Veteran of the Civil War
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He was buried next to his wife and sister, along with several other relatives from the Lichty side of the family.  A small American flag from Memorial Day was still in place by a US veteran marker at the base of his memorial.  As I touched the stone, it was like making a physical connection to my great-great-grandfather for the very first time.  Later, I asked for copies of his military records from the National Archives in Washington D.C., the city he once protected.  A few weeks later, I was surprised to find a huge package sticking out of my mailbox.   Over 100 pages of copied documents, that turned out to be a transcript from an inquest concerning David Lichty's request for a military pension.  After looking through some of the documents, I soon discovered that David Lichty served longer than nine months.  After mustering out with his unit, he soon reenlisted in the Pennsylvania Cavalry where he served actively until the end of the war.

First Pennsylvania Cavalry
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During the war with the Pennsylvania Cavalry, David Lichty contracted an intestinal disease from which, he would never fully recover.   The military court documents revealed through witnesses testimony that David had a difficult time with his health that limited his ability to work after the war. According to the testifying physician's reports, David's intestinal problems persisted and later led to severe migraine headaches, sometimes causing temporary blindness.  Normally, pensions were only awarded to veterans who had been wounded in battle and would later have trouble providing for themselves in the civilian world.  David's health problems were not the direct result of a specific battlefield incident and as a result, he was not awarded a pension upon discharge.  The trial transcripts are fascinating to examine but difficult to follow since the entire transcript was hand written by a military court clerk.   It takes practice and patience to decode the quick cursive script of the clerk.  The traveling court came to Terre Hill to hear the case of David Lichty and following a long examination of the evidence and his military records, they granted him a disability pension of fifteen dollars a month. He received the payment the rest of his life and was then requested again by his wife Mary and awarded until her death in 1918.

 Private Jeffrey D. Martin
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I continue to file through the paperwork to follow the military and post-war civilian life of David Lichty hoping to complete the gaps in his life story.   In the process, I have become a Civil War Reenactor with the PA 30th Co. E out of Lancaster to learn more about the time period and his life.   Through re-enactments and living history events, I have come to appreciate what he and other brave young men went through during the conflict of the Civil War.   As a teacher and student of history, I am always amazed by the chance in history.   It is humbling to ponder the fact... If my great-grandfather had died during the war, like so many in his unit did, from wounds and disease, I would not be here today.  Over 600,000 other men who served, never returned home.

 Saint Paul's United Methodist
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