Title: Army Captain, Civil War; painter
Birthdate: 1824
Death Date: December 20, 1898
Plot Location: Section 42, Lot 78

Sorber obelislk (3)

The father of this family named his middle son Fred, after himself, but gave him a middle initial that has been difficult to identify. The handwritten capital letters “I” and “J,” written in the 19th century were very similar in appearance, and are interpreted one way as much as the other. Fred was one of five boys and three girls whose great grandfather was a Revolutionary War soldier from Philadelphia.

The children grew up in what was called Blockley Township on the western edge of Philadelphia County. Prior to the city and county mering in 1854 there was a small crossroads community called Hestonville at what is now 54th and Lancaster Avenue. Six of the eight children never left the immediate area, and each of those are buried at Mount Moriah.

Fred started working as a carpenter, probably for his father who was a prosperous coach maker. His younger brother John worked there as a “trimmer.” By 1860, Fred found that house painting was what he enjoyed more, and it may have been about this time that he found and married Anna Wynne. 

The outbreak of war in 1861 prompted Fred to join Company E of the 29th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in May. John followed him by joining a cavalry regiment in September. Both men served for three years, with John becoming a corporal and Fred rising in rank to lead his company as captain.

The 29th regiment went right into the thick of battle, most notably at Gettysburg. They brought 485 men to the field with only 15 killed, 43 wounded, and 8 missing. A huge memorial from the state of Pennsylvania (shown here) honors every soldier in every unit from the state that fought there by listing their names on bronze panels surrounding the base. A close-up shows Fred’s name with Company E.

From there the 29th went south to Chattanooga, fighting in the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge before moving into Georgia. The regiment wasn’t disbanded until the war ended but Fred’s tour of duty was over in 1864. Other men from the 29th with “Notable” stories that are buried at Mount Moriah include the commander of the regiment, Colonel John Kidd Murphy, a sergeant from  Company K, George Conly, and a father, William Letford, with two sons who were all in Company B.

Fred returned to his painting career, which lasted the rest of his life. His wife’s life only lasted until 1876, but she gave birth to Ella, Anna and Frederick W. They grew up in the same Hestonville neighborhood, and none of them ever married. Neither did Fred after Anna’s passing. He died of pneumonia brought on by a bout with influenza.

Fred’s older brother, William, had a son named Frederick A. Sorber who was a Union soldier. He survived the war but he died a few years later at age 28. William’s entire family, Fred’s family, and all three of their sisters are in Section 42, Lot 78, while brother John and wife are in Section 41, lot 40.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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