Title: Army Private, Civil War; firefighter
Birthdate: June 24, 1841
Death Date: January 9, 1917
Plot Location: Section 202, Lot 40
John grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania with a brother, two sisters, and a widowed mother who remarried when John was about six years old. They moved the family to Philadelphia where five more children were born. There, as a teenager, John became a seaman until the country was divided by war.
He joined Company G of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry on August 8, 1861 and left when his term expired three years later. The most significant battle in which he was engaged was at Gettysburg, but there was a difficult fight a month earlier at Brandy Station, Virginia. The usual procedure when the cavalry came to a battle was to dismount and fight like infantrymen, but this was mostly a mounted fight. With 20,000 men involved, it was the largest predominantly cavalry battle of the war.
When his term expired, John resumed his life in Philadelphia and married Elizabeth Campbell in 1869. He joined the city’s fire department which, at that time, was a loose association of volunteer fire houses. In 1871 it became a fully-paid and municipally-controlled department. John was on the original roster of Engine Company 16 when it was organized that year at 51st and Lancaster Avenue. His crew included a foreman, an engineer, a fireman, and eight hosemen. He was listed as the only driver.
He may have held that job for as many as 30 years; during that time nine children were born, six surviving infancy. The 1900 census revealed one daughter had married, one son had married but was living with his bride at his parents’ house, and there were four other sons there as well, ranging in age from 27 to 12. John’s job at that time was listed as a “shot caster.”
Elizabeth and two sons died before he succumbed to chronic kidney disease in 1917, leaving three sons to bury him. Two of those became soldiers in World War I and their “Notable” stories are found here and here.
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