Title: Army Sergeant, Civil War; police officer
Death Date: July 30, 1881
Plot Location: Section 205, Lot 13, west half, center
The early years and roots of William Neinburg are not known but he started married life and fatherhood at 19 when wife Elizabeth gave birth to their daughter. Scarlet fever took the youngster’s life at age 4, the same year their second child, Albert, was born. William was a printer, and they were members of Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.
When the Confederates defeated the Union forces at the Second Battle of Bull Run in August of 1862 and crossed into Maryland, Pennsylvanians were alarmed that the rebel troops were so close crossing the Mason-Dixon Line. The governor called for all able-bodied men to join emergency militias for the defense of the Keystone State. William was enrolled as a Sergeant in the 8th Regiment Militia on September 12. After the Confederates were pushed back at Antietam on September 17, the immediate danger was relieved and the militias were disbanded on September 25.
It was, however, a harbinger of things to come the following June. That’s when General Lee’s men moved toward Gettysburg and another proclamation went out from the governor to bear arms. William enlisted in the 33rd Regiment which was on alert from June 26, 1863 to August 4, but once again he never engaged in any conflict.
The Neinburgs had three more daughters, Sarah (“Sallie”) in 1864, Ida (“Maggie”) in 1865 (died nine months later), and Catherine (“Kate”) in 1871. William Jr. arrived in 1875 but he only lived eight months. The family resided in Point Breeze where William turned to making cigars in the early 1870s.
Another opportunity to serve his state came in 1877 when he joined the 21st Infantry of the Pennsylvania National Guard. It was the summer of the Great Rail Strike when workers pushed back against their employers’ demands and the Guard was called up to disrupt the rioters and maintain order, particularly in Pittsburgh. How long William was on duty is unclear, but it was that same year he chose to serve his city as a police officer.
This newspaper account gives details of his last hours on duty during his fourth year of service, succumbing to a heart attack at age 45. In addition to his membership in the organization for Civil War veterans called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), he belonged to the Improved Order of Red Men. This fraternal society didn’t have any connection to native Americans other than its roots were in the pre-Revolutionary Sons of Liberty, whose members dressed as Mohawks during the Boston Tea Party of 1773.
Just five years later, Elizabeth died of stomach cancer and was buried with her husband in a section that has yet to be cleared near Cobbs Creek. Albert, Kate, and William Jr., are on record as being in this plot as well. The U.S. Grant Post #5 of the GAR also had a plot in Section 205 where William’s information is inscribed, “Wm H Neinberg, Co. F 33 Regt. Pa. Inf.”
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