Benjamin Franklin Beacher Sr. 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
- Born: 16 May 1845, Mahanoy Plane, Schuylkill, PA 1 4 5 10 12 13
- Christened: 28 Sep 1853, Pottsville: Trinity Lutheran Church, Schuylkill, PA 13
- Marriage (1): Sarah Jane Jacobs on 13 May 1866 in Fountain Springs, Schuylkill, PA 1 2
- Died: 22 Nov 1922, Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA at age 77 1 4 5 10 12
- Buried: 25 Nov 1922, Shenandoah Heights: Odd Fellows Cemetery, Schuylkill, PA 1 4 5 10 12 14
Another name for Benjamin was Benjamin Franklin Bicher Sr.
He was 5 feet 3 inches tall with a dark complexion.
Noted events in his life were:
1. He appeared on the census in 1850 in Pottsville, Schuylkill, PA. 15 In 1850 living in the South Ward of Pottsville is Jacob Bieger. Obviously the census taker was confused by his German pronounciation of his surname! Jacob Bieger, tailer, age 36, is living with wife Angeline, 35; William, 12; Jacob, 11; Hiram, 8; Benjamin, 6; George, 3; and Nathan, 8 months old when the census was recorded on 29 Aug 1850. Everyone was born in Pennsylvania.
2. He appeared on the census in 1860 in New Castle Twp., Schuylkill, PA. 16 In 1860 living in the New Castle Township is Jacob Bucher, day laborer, age 48, living with wife Angeline, 45; William, day laborer, 21; Jacob, day laborer, 19; Hiram, day laborer, 17; B. Franklin, day laborer, 15; George, 12; and Nathan, 9; and Ann M., 7. Everyone was born in Pennsylvania. The post office is Broad Mountain.
3. Military from 1864 to 1865 in , , PA: during the Civil War. 17 18 He enlisted in the Pennsylvania 7th Cavalry (80th Infantry).
Benjamin only joined in early 1864 starting with the Atlanta campaign, but the complete history of the 7th PA is described in The Union Army, Vol. 1 as follows:
The 7th cavalry, the 80th regiment of the line, was composed of men from the counties of Schuylkill, Lycoming, Tioga, Bradford, Northumberland, Montour, Clinton, Center, Chester, Luzerne, Dauphin, Cumberland, Berks and Allegheny. It rendezvoused by companies at Camp Cameron, Harrisburg, and was mustered into the U. S. service in Sept., Oct., and Nov., 1861, for three years.
Col. Wynkoop was an experienced cavalry officer in the militia and had served as brigadier-general in the three months' service, in which many of the officers and men had also served. The regiment received its colors from Gov. Curtin on Dec. 18, and the following day left the state for Louisville, Ky., where it reported to Gen. Buell, commanding the Department of the Ohio. It remained in camp of instruction at Jeffersonville, Ind., until the end of Jan., 1862, when it moved to Nashville, Tenn., where the 1st battalion under Maj. Wynkoop was assigned to Gen. Negley's brigade; the 2nd under Col. Wynkoop, to Gen. Dumont at Nashville; the 3rd, under Mail Given, to Col. Duffield's command, two companies being posted at Murfreesboro and two at Lebanon.
The detachments were now employed in scouting in western and middle Tenn., the 2nd and 3rd battalions, with the 1st, 4th and 5th Ky. cavalry being hotly engaged with Morgan's cavalry at Lebanon in May, when the enemy was defeated and 170 prisoners taken. The loss of the 7th, was 3 killed, 13 wounded and 3 captured, Maj. Given being among the prisoners.
In the early part of June the 1st battalion accompanied Gen. Negley to Chattanooga, skirmishing at Sweden's cove and in front of Chattanooga. The 3rd battalion, now under Maj. Seibert, was engaged in June with Forrest's cavalry at McMinnville and Readyville, and on July 13, it was surprised and captured by Forrest at Murfreesboro, together with the rest of the garrison. The 7th lost 5 killed and 20 wounded in the engagement and the men captured were paroled.
Early in July the 1st battalion, as a part of Gen. Smith's brigade, occupied Manchester. The 2nd and 3rd battalions shared in Gen. Dumont's expedition across the Cumberland mountains, beating and routing the enemy at Pikeville. They were again engaged a little later with Forrest's cavalry at Calf Killer creek, where they lost some prisoners.
In an engagement at Gallatin in August with Morgan's cavalry, a detachment of the 7th, under Col. Wynkoop, forming part of Gen. Richard Johnson's provisional brigade, suffered a loss of 11 killed and wounded and 43 taken prisoners. The 1st battalion was active with some loss at the battle of Perryville, Ky., but the other two battalions, attached to Negley's brigade, remained in garrison at Nashville.
When Gen. Rosecrans assumed command of the Army of the Cumberland in Nov., 1862, it was completely reorganized, the 7th Pa. being assigned to the 1st brigade (Col. Minty), 2nd division, of the cavalry commanded by Gen. D. S. Stanley. The regiment was constantly skirmishing in the advance of the army on Murfreesboro and was active in the battle there, losing 2 killed, 9 wounded and 50 missing. It was again engaged at Rover, in Jan., 1863, executing a gallant charge and driving the enemy. It was once more active at Rover and Unionville in March, with a loss of 2 killed and 7 wounded.
The 1st brigade now joined Sheridan's division, which marched to Franklin; skirmished with Van Dorn and Forrest at Spring Hill and Rutherford creek, and returned to Murfreesboro. From that time until the following June, the command was variously engaged, being active at Snow hill, McMinnville, and Murfreesboro. On June 24, it moved on Gen. Rosecrans' campaign to Tullahoma, being active at Guy's gap, Shelbyville, Elk river and Sparta.
In September it took part in the Chickamauga campaign and after the battle pursued Wheeler's cavalry for 18 days into Alabama. In the early part of the year 1864, most of the members reenlisted at Huntsville, Ala., and were given the usual veteran furlough. On their return the command was recruited to about 1,800 men and engaged in drill and preparation at Columbia for the spring campaign.
On April 30, under command of Col Sipes, it joined Gen. Sherman for the Atlanta campaign, being attached to Garrard's division, and saw much active service from this time on. It was in actions at Rome, Dallas and Villa Rica road, Big Shanty, McAfee cross-roads, Noonday creek and Kennesaw mountain, raided the Augusta & Atlanta railroad in July, shared in the raid on Covington, was engaged at Flatrock bridge, and on Aug. 1, entered the trenches in front of Atlanta.
It joined in Gen. Kilpatrick's raid in August; skirmished at Fairburn, Jonesboro and Lovejoy's Station, losing 43 men during the expedition. In October it was active at Rome, and the following day made a gallant charge on infantry and captured 2 pieces of artillery. It had suffered much in men, horses and equipment during the strenuous campaign and was now ordered to Louisville to refit. Here many of the officers whose original term of service had expired were mustered out.
After the battle of Nashville and the defeat of Hood, the command was stationed at Gravelly Springs, Ala., on the Tennessee river, drilling and making preparation for the spring campaign. In the latter part of March, 1865, it joined Gen. Wilson in his raid through Alabama and Georgia, skirmished at Plantersville on April 1, led the assault upon the enemy's works the following day at Selma, losing heavily in killed and wounded, and was again active at Columbus. The war was now practically ended. The regiment remained at Macon until Aug. 23, 1865, when it was mustered out.
Fought at Shelbyville.
Fought at Sparta, TN.
Fought on 31 January 1862 at Rover, TN.
Fought on 05 May 1862 at Lebanon, TN.
Fought on 06 July 1862 at Murfreesboro, TN.
Fought on 13 July 1862 at Murfreesboro, TN.
Fought on 27 July 1862.
Fought on 04 August 1862.
Fought on 09 August 1862.
Fought on 15 August 1862 at Columbus, OH.
Fought on 21 August 1862 at Gallatin, TN.
Fought on 25 August 1862 at Gallatin, TN.
Fought on 01 September 1862.
Fought on 09 September 1862 at Fayetteville, TN.
Fought on 15 September 1862.
Fought on 19 September 1862.
Fought on 19 September 1862 at Brentville, TN.
Fought on 19 September 1862 at Brentwood, TN.
Fought on 20 September 1862 at Bear Wallow, KY.
Fought on 08 October 1862 at Lavergne, TN.
Fought on 08 October 1862 at Perryville, KY.
Fought on 26 November 1862.
Fought on 11 December 1862 at Nolensville, TN.
Fought on 31 December 1862 at Stones River, TN.
Fought on 01 January 1863 at Stones River, TN.
Fought on 05 January 1863 at Stones River, TN.
Fought on 15 January 1863.
Fought on 15 February 1863 at Eagleville, TN.
Fought on 27 June 1863 at Selma, AL.
Fought on 27 June 1863 at Shelbyville, TN.
Fought on 28 June 1863 at Shelbyville, TN.
Fought on 27 July 1863 at Shelbyville, TN.
Fought on 17 August 1863 at Sparta, TN.
Fought on 18 September 1863 at Chickamauga, GA.
Fought on 21 September 1863 at Chickamauga, GA.
Fought on 23 September 1863 at Chickamauga, GA.
Fought on 04 October 1863 at Cumberland, MD.
Fought on 17 October 1863.
Fought on 08 November 1863.
Fought on 02 May 1864 at Dallas, GA.
Fought on 27 May 1864 at Dallas, GA.
Fought on 07 June 1864 at Shelbyville, Bartow County, GA.
Fought on 09 June 1864 at Big Shanty, GA.
Fought on 11 June 1864 at McAfee's Cross Roads, GA.
Fought on 15 June 1864 at Lynnville, GA.
Fought on 20 June 1864 at Noonday Creek, GA.
Fought on 26 June 1864.
Fought on 15 July 1864 at Marietta, GA.
Fought on 24 July 1864.
Fought on 28 July 1864 at Flat Rock, GA.
Fought on 12 August 1864 at Atlanta, GA.
Fought on 13 August 1864 at Atlanta, GA.
Fought on 20 August 1864 at Lovejoy Station, GA.
Fought on 20 August 1864 at Red Oak Church, GA.
Fought on 21 August 1864 at Lovejoy Station, GA.
Fought on 22 August 1864 at Lovejoy Station, GA.
Fought on 30 August 1864.
Fought on 01 September 1864.
Fought on 02 September 1864 at Vining Station, GA.
Fought on 01 October 1864.
Fought on 04 October 1864.
Fought on 12 October 1864.
Fought on 13 October 1864 at Rome, GA.
Fought on 14 October 1864 at Rome, GA.
Fought on 15 October 1864.
Fought on 18 October 1864.
Fought on 30 October 1864.
Fought on 27 November 1864 at Flat Rock, GA.
Fought on 03 December 1864.
Fought on 29 December 1864 at Bardstown, KY.
Fought on 01 April 1865.
Fought on 02 April 1865 at Selma, AL.
Fought on 07 April 1865.
Fought on 08 April 1865 at Selma, AL.
Fought on 12 April 1865.
Fought on 14 April 1865.
Fought on 15 April 1865.
Fought on 05 May 1865 at Macon, GA.
Fought on 18 May 1865 at Selma, AL.
4. Military in 1864: in Kilpatrick's Raid during Sherman's Atlanta Campaign as described in a letter from a member of the 7th Cavalry.
When General Sherman's Army arrived in front of Atlanta, and laid siege to the place, a plan was formed to attack the enemy's communications, to cut off his supplies. For the daring and hazardous work the best cavalry in the army was selected, the Seventh being among them. The object was accomplished after severe fighting and loss. The annexed graphic description of the operations were furnished to us by an esteemed friend who participated in the movement as a soldier of the Seventh:
Camp 7th PA. Vet. Cavalry
In Front of Atlanta, GA, August 23rd, 1864
Since the date of my last communication, up to the 17th of this month, nothing worthy of note happened to the old 7th. We were out on two or three raids, destroyed several miles of railroad for the "Johnnies" at and near Covington on the line of road between Atlanta and Augusta, captured about two hundred horses and mules, and about half that number of "Free Americans of African Descent," served two weeks in the breastworks dismounted, and were beginning to think we were destined to remain there until Atlanta had fallen, when we were ordered back to our horses on the 15th inst.
Rumor said we were to make another raid, and we were looking anxiously for some definite information, when about sundown of the 17th we were ordered to be ready to move at nine o'clock that evening with five days' rations from the morning of the 19th. About midnight we moved out and at seven o'clock on the morning of the 18th were at Sandtown, a small village on the Chattahootchie River some sixteen miles below the Rail Road bridge. Up to this time we were in the dark as to what we were to do, or where we were going to do it.
We now found we were to form part of the force which, under the command of Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick, were to make an attack on the enemy's communications, and endeavor to cut the Macon Rail Road. I cannot better convey to you the object of the expedition than by giving you the circular issued by the commanding officer. It is as follows:
Head-Quarters Cavalry Expedition, D.C.
Sandtown, GA, August 18, 1864
Soldiers! You have been selected from the Cavalry Divisions of the Army of the Cumberland. You have been well organized, equipped and rendered formidable at a great expense to accomplish an object vital to the success of our cause. I am about to lead you, not on a raid, but in a deliberate and well combined attack upon the enemy's communications, in order that he may be unable to supply his army in Atlanta. Two expeditions have already failed. We are the last cavalry troops of the army. Let each soldier remember this and resolve to accomplish the great object for which so much is risked or die trying.
(Signed) J. Kilpatrick Brig. Gen. Commanding
At Sandtown on the 18th the column moved. It consisted of the 3rd Division, composed of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois Cavalry, one Brigade of the 1st Division, and two Brigades of ours, the 2nd Division, composed of Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania cavalry.
The advance struck the enemy's pickets five miles from Sandtown. They offered but feeble resistance however, and we met with no serious opposition until daylight the 19th, when we struck the Montgomery Rail Road at Red Oaks. Here the Rebs were strongly posted parallel to the road, and had their artillery so posted that they could as they supposed hold us in check, but orders were given to keep well closed up and keep pressing forward.
They threw their shells with a rapidity and accuracy that told upon our ranks, but at length seeing that we were getting to their rear, they concluded it was time for them to be leaving, so they left on a double quick towards Jonesboro. We following closely in their rear, drove them all day, and at dusk struck the Macon Rail Road at Jonesboro. At this point we destroyed over three miles of track, burned the depot and several their buildings, used by the Confederate Government as store houses, and an iron water tank. The latter for a time defied our efforts to render it useless, but at last we brought a piece of artillery to bear upon it, and I rather think it will take more than Southern ingenuity to stop all the holes we knocked through it.
As soon as the work of destruction was accomplished, the expedition was on the move and taking the Covington road daylight of the 20th, found us ten or twelve miles from Jonesboro. Here we halted at a church for an hour. The enemy who were following us were held in check by our rear guard. We then took a road to the left and struck the main road from McDonough to Fayetteville, and pushed rapidly forward till about noon, when we struck the enemy in force at our front.
At this point the 4th Michigan Cavalry struck off to the right to Lovejoy Station to destroy the Rail Road at that point. They succeeded in their object, without meeting with any opposition. Our regiment was thrown into the woods at the right of the road, and then dismounted and commenced feeling the enemy. They soon found them, and being too strong for our number, the 4th U. S. was sent to our assistance and shortly afterwards the 2nd Brigade of our Division.
We then charged the rebs and drove them some distance, when they rallied and in turn drove us. Meanwhile the force in our rear was pushing us hard; they threw shells from front and rear into our columns. After fighting on foot for some time in which neither party appeared to gain much, we were ordered to mount, which we did. We were formed into columns of regiments, and ordered to charge.
Our Regiment was on the right, the 4th Michigan in the centre, and the 4th U. S. was on the left of the road. Another Brigade was formed in like manner. When every thing was ready the word was given; and in they went. Words can scarcely portray the terrible sublimity of that charge. The air was filled with burning shells and musket balls. The ground fairly trembled under the tread of a thousand horses. As they get nearer the foe the grape and canister come tearing through the ranks, yet nothing can stop our rushing columns. Nearer they come to the yet unbroken line. Now they close upon them with a yell which drowns the roar of artillery and the crack of the musket. Now the rebel line is broken and is fleeing in wild disorder. Many are cut down with the sabre and many more trodden under foot by the horses.
The field is won, the victory is ours, and wild and exultant is the cheer that makes the very welkin ring. Their battery is silenced. One of the pieces we brought with us, and the others were spiked and rendered perfectly useless.
We had some more hard fighting, but as usual were victorious. The same afternoon the whole command forded Cotton River, which was so swollen that the horses had to swim. The next day, the 21st, we crossed Yellow River and destroyed four bridges after we had crossed, and yesterday, the 22nd, the command came in by way of Decatur, having had a circle around Atlanta.
We accomplished our object, but when we look around for familiar faces, and look in vain for many who but a weeks ago were full of life and hope, we realize the cost of our expedition.
Capt. Heber Thompson is missing. The last seen of him he was rallying the men to take the artillery. His horse was shot and he was dismounted. Capt. Percy H. White is missing. We know that he was wounded, but trust it was not a fatal wound.
The casualties of men from Schuylkill County, are as follows:
COMPANY A Killed - David L. Davis Wounded - Alonso E. Kline Wounded and Missing - Sgt. David P. Reese, Francis Weigley, William Robinson, Peter Mulcachey.
COMPANY F Wounded and Missing - Corp. George M. Boyer
COMPANY I Wounded - Orvin P. Keehoe. Wounded and Missing - Levi Seibert.
COMPANY L Wounded - Corp. Charles M. Kantner.
Roster Source: Memorial of the Patriotism of Schuylkill County in the American Slaveholders Rebellion, Compiled by Francis B. Wallace, 1865.
5. Military on 12 Feb 1864 in Pottsville, Schuylkill, PA: in the Civil War. His record in the Pennsylvania State Archives shows he enlisted. 19 20 The notes on his record:
Enrolled: 2-12-64 at Pottsville, PA.
Mustered in as Pvt. 2-12-64.
Mustered out 8-23-65.
Age at enrollment: 20
Complexion: Dark, Height: 5'3", Eyes: Grey, Hair: Brown
Residence: Pottsville, PA.
Born: Schuylkill Co., PA.
6. Bible: Family Bible of B. F. Beacher, From 1865 to 1889, , Schuylkill, PA. 2 Inscriptions:
That the rite of Holy Matrimony was celebrated between
Benjamin F. Beacher, Sr. of Newcastle Twp., Schuylkill Co.
and Sarah Jane Jacobs of the same
on the 13th day of May 1865 at Fountain Springs, Pa. by the Reverend Mr. Dengler.
bro Jacob Beacher, witness
girlfriend Angeline Ocom, witness
Emma Beacher - Alfred E. Horrox - 1890
Laura Beacher - Tom Heywood - 1892
Angeline Beacher - William Woomer
Benjamin Beacher - Bertha Snyder - 5-10-1905
Arthur Beacher - Lottie Wagner
Mamie Beacher - William Derrish [sic Derrick?]
1. Hiram Grant Beacher
Born in the year of our Lord 1868 on the 18th day of February in New Castle Township, Schuylkill Co.
2. Emma M. Beacher
Born in the year of our Lord 1869 on the 21 day of Nov in Lost Creek, Schuylkill Co.
3. Laura E. Beacher
Born in the year of our Lord 1871 on the 18 day of January in Shenandoah City Schuylkill Co. Received the
4. Sarah J. Beacher
Born in the year of our Lord 1873 on the 10th of February in Shenandoah City Schuylkill Co.
5. Angeline Beacher
Born in the year of our Lord in Shenandoah on the 15 day of October 1878 Schuylkill Co.
6. Born in the year of our Lord Benjamin F. Beacher on 7 day of February in Shenandoah Schuylkill Co. in the year 1878.
7. Born in the year of our loard 1879 on the 17th of December in Shenandoah, PA, Schuylkill Co.- Mamie Beacher. Married Wm Derrick.
8. Born in the year of our Lord 1881 on the 15th day of June in Shenandoah, Schuylkill Co. - Lottie Beacher
9. Arthur Beacher born in the year of oru Lord 1883 on 20 of July in Shenandoah, PA Schuylkill Co.
10. Born in the year of our Lord 1885 on the 28th day of November in Shenandoah, Schuylkill Co. - John Jacob Beacher
This bible belonged to B.F. Beacher self or wife, mother and father of the above.
7. Residence: in 1866 in Lost Creek, Schuylkill, PA. In his military pension application, Benjamin states following the war he lived for two years at Lost Creek, then several months at Mahanoy Plane, before moving to Shenandoah where he lived for the balance of his life.
8. He appeared on the census in 1870 in Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 21 Angelina Becker [sic], 55, is listed as the head of the household. Living with her: William, 31; Heiram [sic], 28; Benjamin, 26; George, 24; Nathan, 20; and Mary, 18. The men are all employed as miners. Everyone was born in Pennsylvania. The post office is Shenandosh.
[Note: the family shows up twice in the 1870 census in both Shenandoah and Broad Mountain in New Castle Township. Some members are in both locations, so the family either had two homes operating, or, moved in 1870 and happened to be counted in each location.]
9. Newspaper: Weekly Miner's Journal: Charter Notice, 22 Jan 1875, Pottsville, Schuylkill, PA. 22 CHARTER NOTICE. -- Notice is hereby given that application will be made for the incorporation of a hook and ladder company, under the name, style and title of "The Rescue Hook and Ladder Company of the Borough of Shenandoah," in accordance with the provisions of the act of April 29, 1874.
S. W. Zimmerman, Benjamin Beacher, Thomas Rigby, Com.
December 29, 1874
10. Newspaper: Weekly Miner's Journal: Charters Granted. Charter to Rescue Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 Of Shenandoah, by Green, J., 26 Feb 1875, Pottsville, Schuylkill, PA. 23 The following are the names of the charter members of the company: G. S. James, B. G. Ness, S. W. Zimmerman, B. Beacher, John Cathers, Wm. Brown, Em. Kalb, John Shelby, Benjamin Marshall, John Dandow, John Harris, George Dawson, Wm. Phillips, Thos. Rigby, Wm, Johns, Michael Hinkle, C. D. Hornberger, John Ploppert, George Boyer, Wm Sargeant, Samuel Gilbert, E. Snyder, Charles Becker, Fred Ludwig, George Hartso, George Beck, E. S. Phillips, George R. Sheaffer, George Faust, G. S. Cassidy, John Sheaffer, Wm E. Lloyd, Benjamin Hackett, W. Levine.
11. He appeared on the census in 1880 in Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 24 On Center Street in Shenandoah: Benjamin Beacher (age 35, occupation miner) and living in his household are his wife, Sarah Jane (33); daughters Emma (10), Laura (8), Sallie (6) and Angeline (5), son Benjamin (3),and daughter Mary (1). Everyone and their parents were born in Pennsylvania.
12. Book: History of Schuylkill County, 1881. 18
EIGHTIETH REGIMENT Of this regiment companies A and F were recruited in Schuylkill county, and other companies contained some men from this county. It was recruited and organized in the autumn of 1861, and in December of that year it went to the department of the Cumberland, then under the command of General Buell. At Nashville the three commands were separated, and all engaged in scouting through eastern and middle Tennessee, in the discharge 136 of which duty they were engaged in many sharp skirmishes and some severe fights. In the autumn of 1862 the cavalry of the department was reorganized on the accession of General Rosecrans to the command, and the 7th was made a part of the first brigade of cavalry, under Colonel Mintz. Picket, outpost and foraging duty continued until the advance on Murfreesboro, in December of that year. In January, 1863, the regiment, with its brigade, was engaged in two sharp skirmishes at Rover and one at Unionville. These were vigorously followed by active scouting and skirmishing. In the action at Shelbyville the 7th made a brilliant charge in the face of a rebel battery, which it captured. In July and August the regiment went on an expedition in pursuit of Wheeler's cavalry, and was on the march during eighteen consecutive days and nights, with scarcely any rest. A large portion of the regiment re-enlisted in 1864 and received a veteran furlough. After its return, with ranks recruited, it was actively engaged in the memorable campaign of the following summer, and the march across the gulf States that succeeded that campaign, and during these it was engaged in efficient service. April 28th, 1865, it arrived at Macon, Ga., where it remained until the following August, when it was mustered out of the service.
**COMPANY F Officers.-Captain, Cyrus Newlin. first lieutenant, Ber.Reilly; second, Joseph H. Denning. Sergeants-V.R. Boyer, William Zehner, William Smith, William Jenkins, John Williams, James A. Wilson, Daniel Siegfried, John M. Rich. Coprorals-William H. Beaver, George M. Boyer, Condy McGuire, Richard Fotheringill. Buglers-Joseph Partridge, John Coughin. Blacksmith, Adam Mager. Saddler, Abraham Vandyke. Privates.-William Anstock, Adam Aummersboch, Joseph Adams, Abraham Berger, Charles Bowers, Jacob Beler, G.W. Bordman, Patrick Boyle, Benjamin Beacher, John J. Beacher, William Bond, C.L. Bartholomew, William Brennan, Dennis Bowers, William Blacker, Charles Blacker, John Betz, David Boyer, Henry Breslin, William Breslin, Jacob Broom, Samuel Bryson, John Bummersboch, John Ball, Charles Burke, Bart. Ball, Charles Beaumont, Peter Boers, Joseph W. Beauhart, John Bertz, Thomas Baldwin, James Collins, John Cunningham, Hart Cggins, John Cunningham, Ezra Cockell, Patrick Cassey, Peter Creiger, A.J. Chambus, Edward Connors, John Deaner, Adam Detyoune, James Dougher, John Dunlevy, Robert Devine, John Davis, John Dando, William English, Samuel Evans, David Evans, Thomas B. Evans, George English, William H. Eise, John A.J. Fartick, Joseph R. Fisher, William J. Fox, Joseph Fotheringill, Jacob Fronty, David S. Fox, Michael Flenery, Albert Fronley, James Fogerty, David Gower, Thomas Gradwell, Charles S. Hower, William Harris, Peter Haine, David Henry, James Hagerty, Martin Haley, Edward Hines, Joseph Haldeman, William F. Hisser, B.M. Hoffee, Francis Hahn, Jacob Hubzer, Francis W. Hagerty, Joseph T. Hart, George Houser, Thomas W. Jones, Elias Jones, Robert Jones, David Jones, David R. Jones, Bernard Kelley, Theodore Koch, George Koch, Aquilla Kniffe, Patrick R. Kearns, Joseph Knapp, Llewellyn Llewellyn, David Levan, Cornelius Link, Charles Linn, Daniel Lynch (deserted), John C. Long, George Leib, Alexander Lafferty, James Lyons, Isaac Miller, John Miller jr., John McGuire, John W. Moyer, Samuel Mitchell, John A. Moore, George F. Millet, Joseph May, Peter McGan, Patrick McLaughlin, Michael Murray, Robert Marchal, Adam L. Metz, George Metz, Thomas H. May, Philip Manley, Daniel McManamee, Michael McShay, Christian Newser, George Nutz, John O'Donnell, John O'Neill, James Price, Salathiel F. Paine, Gideon Rahn, George Reese, William Richard, Peter Raber, Albert Robert, Thomas Ray, George Shutt, Solomon Shreffler, Frederick Smith, Thomas Shaw, Henry Sykes, William Sultzer, James Sheer, James Shine, William Stack, Henry Simmers, Samuel Thomas, John D. Thomas, Adgate Vanhorn, Samuel Winn, Richard Williams, Amandus Wumer, Samuel Waters, Davis Williams, William Watkins, Michael Wilson, Francis Whitehead, Oliver William, John D. Williams.
13. Newspaper: Weekly Herald: Benjamin Beacher Capture Thief, 6 Jul 1889, Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 25 Between two and three o'clock Sunday morning thieves broke into a freight car at the Philadelphia and Reading depot on Line street and stole two cases of shoes. The stolen goods were traced to a breach of the Kehley Run colliery and three special police were assigned to watch them. About six o'clock that evening a man of town named Martin Duffy was placed under arrest and from information obtained from him the police felt justified in allowing the stolen goods to remain in the place and keeping a guard there. At about half past nine o'clock Chief of Police Neiswenter, C. & I. Policeman John W. Blaker and Special Officer Benjamin Beacher were secreted near the breach when they saw a man approach. The man cautiously viewed his surroundings and then descended the mountain. About an hour later three men approached the breach and one stood guard at the brink while the other two descended into the cavity. A few minutes later one of the men returned to the guard with a pair of shoes under his arm. The guard examined the shoes and then exclaimed, "Das's not der kind I want. Got dem outer de odder box." The two then joined the man remaining in the breach and then the officers left their places of hiding. A man was making his way out of the breach with a pair of shoes under his arm when Beacher laid his arm upon his shoulder and exclaimed, "You are my prisoner." In the meantime Neiswenter and Blaker had descended into the breach and had placed the other two men under arrest. The three prisoners were then taken to the lockup to join the man who was arrested early in the evening. The prisoners proved to be Martin Duffy, Richard Dalton, Patrick Hays and John Loftus. Duffy was the first man arrested. The next morning the four prisoners were taken before 'Squire Dongler and they all pleaded "not guilty," notwithstanding the circumstances surrounding their arrest. Loftus furnished $1,000 bail for trial, his mother furnishing the security. The other three prisoners were committed in default of bail and they were taken to Pottsville. As the prosecution is in the hands of the P. & R. Railroad Company, the chances for the cases being settled short of a trial and conviction are very slim. The goods stolen were consigned to a boot and shoe dealer of town and Peter Canfield, of Mahanoy Plane.
14. He appeared on the census in 1890 in Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 26 The original records from the 1890 Census were destroyed in a fire in Washington D.C. but an index to the census was published for Schuylkill County. It shows Benjamin's record appearing in the Third Ward as follows:
Beacher, Benjamin, 45, miner. 3 Apple alley. Sallie, Linda, Benjamin 12, Mary, Archie 7.
Since his wife Sarah Jane died in 1886, Benjamin is living alone with his children. Archie, 7, is assumed to be the nickname of his son Arthur (born 1883).
15. Residence: 3 Apple Alley in 1890 in Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA.
16. Newspaper: Railroad Accident reported in New York Times mentions Benjamin., 19 Sep 1890, Shoemakersville, Berks County, PA. 27 A great tragedy occurred on September 19, 1890 where Benjamin faced death. He had been attending a State Firemen's Convention in Chester, Pa. and was returning home by train on the Pottsville Express. The train was late leaving Reading at 5:42 p.m. so the engineer was moving at a high rate of speed, approaching Shoemakersville on a bend twenty feet above the Schuylkill River, when the engineer saw ahead a wreck that had earlier occurred between freight and coal trains.
The passenger train, loaded with visitors to the Berks County fair and many firemen from the coal region who at been attending the firemen's convention, slammed into the wreckage and then plunged down into the river.
The September 19th New York Times reported: "The horrors of the scene of disaster are simply indescribable, and it will take the daylight of to-morrow to fully reveal the awful wreck and ruin wrought. The engine lies in the bottom of the river, whose waters are about five feet deep and the baggage, mail, and passenger cars are also in the water, while at this hour, 10 0'clock, 300 men are at work taking out the dead and dying."
"As it was, the engine dashed into the wreck and then plunged down the steep sides of the embankment, followed by the remainder of the entire train. There was a hissing of steam, a plunging of the waters as they received their prey, a crashing of timbers, and screams of agony and fright from 150 people in the imprisoned passenger cars."
Among the injured in the New York Times report is "B. Franklin Beecher, Shenandoah, left hip badly cut and legs hurt."
17. Newspaper: Logansport Pharos-Tribune: A Terrible Wreck, 20 Sep 1890, Logansport, Cass, IN. 28 A TERRIBLE WECK
THE POTTSVILLE EXPRESS ON THE READING RAILROAD
Dashes into.a Wrecked Freight Train Near Reading, Pa.
AND THE ENTIRE TRAIN IS THROWN INTO THE SCHUYLKILL RIVER.
One Hundred and Fifty Passengers on Board.
The List of Killed and Wounded not Complete.
But the Loss of Life Undoubtedly Very Great.
By Telegraph to the Journal.
Reading, Pa., Sept. 19.-A wreck occurred on the Reading road 17 miles above this place at about 6:45 o'clock to-night. If everything is borne out by subsequent developments, it is the worst -wreck that has ever occurred in the history of the Reading Railway Co. The train which met with disaster left this city at 6:10 o'clock, was ten minutes late. It is known as the Pottsville Express and was running at the rate of at least 45 miles an hour. It had on board probably 125 to 150 passengers and consisted of engine, mail and express cars, and three passenger cars. Above Shoemakersville, about 15 miles above this city there is a curve where the railroad is about eighteen to twenty feet higher than the Schuylkill river. Here shortly before 6 o'clock a freight train ran into a coal train, throwing several cars of the latter on the opposite track and before the train hands had time to go back to warn any approaching train of the danger, the Pottsville express came around the curve and ran into the wrecked coal cars on its track. The engine went down the embankment, followed by the entire train with its human freight. The scene was one of great horror, and can be better imagined than described. The cries of the imprisoned passengers were heart rending. It was a scene never to be forgotten by those who participated and survived. Some of the passengers managed to crawl out of their prison and aroused the neighborhood. Word was telegraphed to this city and help summoned, but all information was refused at this point by the railroad officials. Physicians and surgeons and a force of 300 workingmen were taken to the spot and with the aid of a traveling electric light plant the work of clearing away the wreck was at once proceeded with. Work was slow and the dead and dying were taken out with great difficulty. Up to 10 o'clock to-night six dead and some thirty wounded had been taken out. Of the latter some were brought here and others taken to the Miners hospital at Ashland.
The dead so far recovered are still on the ground. The dead and wounded taken out up to this time are as follows:
Following is the list killed:
Wm. D. Shome, Reading, badly mangled.
John White, Engineer, Pottsville.
James Templin, Fireman, Pottsville.
Harry Logan, Conductor, Pottsville, Pa.
David Augsted, Mahoney City, died after being taken from the wreck.
E. W. Logan, Baggagemaster, Shenandoah, Pa.
The Injured are:
Harrison Eiland, Philadelphia, leg broken, and internally hurt.
Jos. Southwood, Centralia, badly cut, and internally hurt.
James F. Merkle, Bethlehem, badly cut about head and internally hurt.
John Thornton, Leesport, badly cut about head and body, seriously injured.
Joseph Noll, Shenandoah, cut about head and left shoulder broken.
Frank B. Holl, manager of Frank Mayo's Dramatic Company, cut about head and body, bruised about arms and legs.
John Carroll, back and internally injured.
Joseph A. Asfeia, Mahoney City bruised about body and legs.
Robert Cotton. Pottstown, injured internally.
Samuel Shellenberffer, Hamburg, legs injured.
B. W. Citchler, Girardville. foot and leg mashed.
John Coolick, Mt. Carrnel, hurt internally and hands mashed.
W. W. Johnston, Shenandoah, head badly cut and leg broken.
Geo. Sanders, Reading, badly hurt about neck and back.
Benjamin Franklin Beecher, Shenandoah, left hip badly cut and leg hurt.
Jas. Bernhard Shenandoah. left hip crushed and legs hurt.
John Heiss, Mahoney City, legs badly hurt.
David G. Young, Mahoney City, head badly cut and legs sprained.
Lyman Dick, Hamburg, both legs broken.
Dr. B. F. Saloda, New Ringgold, right arm badly hurt.
Jacob Ulmer, Pottsville. both legs broken.
Samuel Comb, Mahonev City, badly hurt about body and legs broken.
Wm. Simmers, Ashland, hurt internally.
Wm. Glassmaier, Port Clinton, badly cut about breast.
Thomas Cooney, Philadelphia, head and legs injured.
Direct communication has just been had with the scene of the wreck and it is reported that the number of killed will reach forty or fifty. It is impossible to get the exact number and the full horror of the situation will not be known before morning.
At 11 p. m. mail agent Greenwald's body, was taken out followed by the horribly mangled bodies of two Mahoney City firemen on their way home from the Firemen's Convention at Chester. It is rumored that George A. Kaercher, the famous lawyer, of Reading, is among the killed. Sixteen of the injured were brought on a special train to the Reading Hospital at 11 o'clock.
A passenger who went down with the wreck and who was but slightly hurt, says: "When the passenger train left Reading the cars were all filled, many of the passengers being ladies I sat in the front part of the last coach. The train was going at a lively rate of speed. The passengers appeared a happy crowd, many of the ladies chatting and laughing after a day's pleasure at the Berks county fair. I was viewing the lovely country through which we were passing when suddenly there was a terrible crash. I was hurled from my seat while the cars rolled down the twenty foot embankment and I was thrown from one side of the car to the other like a ball, when, splash went one end into the water and I was thrown against the side of the car with a force that partially stunned me. I quickly recovered myself and managed to climb upon the seats on that side of the car which lay against the embankment I was a prisoner in the car, unable to get out, and while I was nursing my sprained ankle and dislocated wrist, I realized that I was in a scene of veritable sorrow. Around me were human beings struggling in the water screaming in their fright and some almost dragged me back into the water again. A few saved themselves as I did and the remainder struggled in the water and they quickly sank out of sight. Up to midnight thirteen bodies had been recovered. The names of known have already been given and the remainder are unknown. Five bodies are exposed to view in the wreck but they are pinned under the timbers and have not yet been taken out. The wreckers of Cressona and Reading have been summoned and both forces are hard at work.
The wrecked train is still lying at the bottom of the river. The exact number of the passengers list is not known and a reporter who is still on the ground telephones his belief that there are still 25 or more bodies underneath the wreck or have been carried away by the current.
18. Newspaper: The Times: statement by Benjamin Beacher about escaping train wreck, 21 Sep 1890, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA. 29 TWENTY-TWO KILLED
Full Details of the Terrible Wreck on the Reading.
The Body of Engineer White Not Yet Recovered.
TO FIX THE RESPONSIBILITY
Coroner's Investigation to Begin To-Morrow and a Pertinent Point to be Pressed in the Inquiry.
Special Telegram to The Times.
Reading, September 20.
The complete details of the terrible railroad disaster about a quarter of a mile above Shoemakersville, which is twelve miles above this city, on the main line of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, are known and they show that the accident was the most shocking that has ever occurred in the history of the company.
The revised list of the casualties attending the wreck shows that twenty-two persons were killed and thirty-two injured. The following are the names of the victims:
George R. Kaercher, general solicitor of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company.
Harry J. Loughan, conductor of the express train, of Pottsville.
John White, engineer of the express train, of Pottsvllle.
James M. Templin. fireman of the express train, of Pottsvllle.
Greenewald, U. S. mall agent, Pottsvllle.
John H. Osborne, of 1931 Park avenue, Philadelphia.
John Shadle, an engineer of the Philadelphia and Hearting Railroad, not on duty. Port Richmond, Philadelphia.
E. J. Fox, Pottsvllle.
Mrs. E. J. Fox, Pottsville.
J. E. Fredericks, Pottsville.
Mrs. J. K. Fredericks, Pottsvllle.
Harry Jacoby, master mason, Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, Pottstown.
James Becker, ex-Burgess of Mahanoy City.
David Arnqstadt, Mahanoy City.
Solomon Hoover, Pottsvllle.
Joseph Bausman, Mahanoy City.
George Lambert, Tamaqua.
Michael Summers, Mahanoy City.
N. C. Vandersmce. Phoenixville.
Frank Hoffman, Mahanoy City.
John L. Miller, Cressona.
William D. Shomo, Reading.
George Sonders. express messenger, Rending; back and neck sprained and bruised.
Edw. Logan, baggage master, Pottsville, badly Injured in back and head. Robert Cotton, parlor car conductor, Pottsvllle, badly bruised and legs lacerated.
John Sonnen, brakeman, Eastport, left leg mashed and badly cut about the head and face.
B. F. Beecher, Shenandoah, left hip badly cut and both legs strained.
John Hess. Mahanoy City, legs badly bruised.
John Barnhart, Shenandoah, bruised about head and body.
Jacob Noll, Shenandoah, head and buck hurt.
Joseph Didyoung, Mahanoy City, head out and hand crushed.
Joseph Ashfieldt, Mahanoy City, left leg badly bruised.
George H. Gould, Shamokln, hurt about the head and body.
John Carroll, St. Clair, back and head bruised.
James Carroll, son of the above, cut on the head.
Frank D. Hall, manager for Frank Mayo, Canton, left arm broken.
W. J. Johnston, Shenandoah, badly bruised and head cut.
John Kulick, Mt. Carmel, hurt internally.
Thomas Cooney, 2016 Edgmont street, Philadelphia, head and face badly cut and bruised and left leg crushed.
William Glassmeyer. Port Clinton, right arm broken, left leg and breast hurt and cut about head and upper part of body.
Dr. B. F. Rolleday, New Ringgold, hand crushed.
Samuel Coombe, Mahanoy City, leg broken and body bruised.
Jacob Ulmer, Pottsvllle, both legs broken.
Harrison Ryland, 1955 North Twentieth street, Philadelphia, body badly bruised and leg broken.
John Southwood, Copper Falls, Mich., hurt internally.
Laurence Bymes, Philadelphia, head contused and right leg mangled.
William Huntsinger, Pottsvllle, bruised about head and body.
Robert Carlton, Pottstown, injured internally.
John Thornton, Leesport, severely out about head and body.
B. W. Eithler, Girardvllle, right foot and leg mashed.
Lyman Deck, Hamburg, both legs broken.
William Simmers, Ashland, hurt about head and face.
John Straub, Schuylkill Haven, leg lacerated.
John McDonald, Shenandoah, both legs severely cut and sprained.
A BODY STILL BURIED.
White, the Engineer, Is Still Under the Debris.
Special Telegram to The Times..
Reading, September 20.
One body still remains buried beneath the debris of the wreck. It is that of John White, the engineer of the train, who is believed to be held down by the engine and boiler of the locomotive. This morning one of White's arms came to the surface. It had been wrenched from the socket and van broken in several places. Active efforts are being made to dislodge the heavy engine and recover the remains of the unfortunate engineer.
The work of recovering bodies from the wreck was prosecuted all night last night and all day to-day. The bodies of Loughan, the conductor, Mr. and Mrs. Fredericks, Mr. Osborne and John Shadle, of this city, and Fireman Templin were taken out between the time of the occurrence of the accident and 2 o'clock this morning.
At 6.30 o'clock the next body -- that of Solicitor Kaercher -- was found and taken at once to the railroad station at Reading, whence it was forwarded to his home at Pottsville later in the day.
Mr. Kaercher had sustained several cuts and bruises over and under the left eye, but they were not sufficient to have caused death and he was undoubtedly pinned down by some heavy portion of the debris and drowned. This was the case with nearly all those who lost their lives. There was only three or four feet of water in the river at the point where the accident took place, and could the victims have freed themselves from the wreck, they could easily have been saved.
A few minutes after Mr. Kaercher 's body had been taken out, the remains of Mr. and Mrs. Fox were brought to the surface of the water and soon lifted on to the bank and sent to the morgue at Reading.
The last body recovered was that of Greenewald, the railway mall agent, which was taken out at 11 o'clock this morning. Since that time diligent search and the most untiring efforts have failed to discover any more bodies and it is believed that the death roll will not be enlarged by future developments.
Some of those who were killed are well known and prominent in the sections in which they lived. Mr. Fox carried on an extensive clothing business in Pottsvllle in partnership with Moses Hlrshler, who resides in Philadelphia. Mr. Fredericks was a prominent builder in Pottsville. James Becker was an ex-Burgess of Mahanoy City and was a leading volunteer fireman. He was on his way home from Chester, where he attended the annual convention of the State Firemen's Association.
N. C. Vanderslice was a well-known resident of Phoenixville and was recently nominated as the Republican candidate for the Legislature In Chester county. He was 51 years old and unmarried.
Others of those killed who were firemen and had attended the convention were Messrs. Angstadt, Hummers and Hoffman.
A notable feature of the accident is that of all the injured men none are likely to die. They were all taken to the Reading Hospital, but to-night only Messrs. Southwood, Straub, Sonnen, Glassmeyer, Cotton and Ryland are in the institution. All the rest have been discharged during the day.
Another very remarkable feature is that while there were thirty-two women on board the train, only two were killed and none were injured.
The point at which the accident occurred was about midway on a very sharp curve in the road, one-half mile above the Shoemakersville station on the western bank of the Schuylkill river. The road is double-tracked, the track running along the edge of the river being used by north-bound trains and the other for trains going in the opposite direction. A steep hill or bluff about sixty feet high overhangs the tracks and the water is thirty feet below the surface of the road. The embankment is what is known as a "made" bank, and is composed of cinders, gravel and dirt, loosely hold together, which crumble and give way rapidly under the slightest pressure.
HOW IT OCCURRED.
A Collision of Two Coal Trains Caused the Accident.
Special Telegram to The Times.
Reading, September 20.
No doubt whatever exists as to the cause of the disaster. It was directly due to another accident, which, had the express train not come along just at the time it did, would not have been productive of any serious results. A coal train of 150 cars, drawn by engine No. 847, had left Perry, which is 1 3-10 miles above the scene of the accident, a few minutes before, in charge of Engineer A. B. Geary. It was followed by another coal train of the same number of cars, in charge of Engineer James Vaile. Both of these trains were making for the siding at Mohrsville, a station about 1 1/2 miles below Shoemakersville. They were both on the southbound track.
The last train was supposed to have left Perry 13 minutes behind the first, according to the trainmaster's instructions. Just as Geary's train reached the curve it split; that is, a car in the center of the train became uncoupled and the forward part drew away from the dropped cars. As soon as the break was discovered, which was in a moment, the rear brakeman jumped off and ran hack to signal the other coal train to stop, but before he could do so, the engine of the second train crashed into the rear of the first and two of the cars were thrown from the south-bound track and turned around so that their ends extended over the north-bound track.
Just at that moment, about 6.15 o'clock, the Williamsport express, which had left Reading fifteen minutes late, came rushing around the curve from the south and before a signal could be given the engine struck the two coal cars.
Engineer White, of the express train, made an effort to reverse his engine when he saw the obstruction, but it was impossible to make any appreciable difference in the headway of the train. The force of the collision threw the coal cars aside and derailed the engine of the express, which tore along the bank for a distance of about thirty feet and then toppled over and plunged down the embankment.
The express train was composed of a mail car, baggage car, smoker, two parlor cars and three ordinary coaches. The engine carried with it over the embankment the tender, mail and baggage cars, smoker, one parlor car and one coach. The other coaches jumped the track but did not capsize nor topple over the bank, and the other parlor car, which was at the rear of the train, was the only one that kept the track.
A scene of the wildest confusion followed. The men and women who were in the cars that had escaped going over the bank hastily tumbled out and ran about panic-stricken and bewildered, shouting each other's' names and asking In tones that indicated their terror what at had happened. Meanwhile their unfortunate fellow-passengers were heard screaming and groaning In the river below and vainly endeavoring to force their way out of the mass of iron and timber with which they were surrounded.
The horrified crew of the coal trains, who were the only persons other than the saved passengers on the spot, went to work to try to rescue some of the people from the wreck in the river, and one of them was sent to the Shoemakersville station to bear tidings of the tragedy. The news was at once telegraphed to Reading and a wrecking train bearing a large number of laborers employed by the company, a big crowd of volunteers and about thirty physicians, with Dr. J. Y. Hoffman, the Coroner of Reading, started for the scene of the accident.
Before they arrived the passengers who had escaped had recovered their self-possession and engaged in the work of rescue.
The first man to come out of the wreck was Samuel Shellenberger, of Hamburg, who was in the smoker, which was literally broken into pieces. He was not hurt except that his right foot was slightly bruised. When the relief party arrived on the ground a portable electric light plant was set up and the work of rescue systematically begun with the result that six dead bodies and all the injured were taken out before daylight.
The scene this morning at the place of the accident was a terrible one, but it seemed to possess a fascination for the people of the surrounding country. Hundreds came from Reading and other points and took possession of places on the summit of the big hill which overlooks the scene of the disaster, and the crowd increased all day and did not begin to lessen in numbers until nightfall.
On the other side of the river the shore was lined with curious people, while a little island in the center of the stream right alongside the wrecked engine and cars was thronged with men, women and children. While the work of taking out the bodies was being carried on a merry picnic party camo down the road from Shoemakersville, on the cast side of the river, and took up their open air quarters in a shady grove near the eastern bank.
A detachment of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Police kept the crowd back and ropes were stretched to prevent the intrusion of persons who were not entitled to enter the enclosure. The work of clearing away the wreck was prosecuted vigorously by Wrecking Master Theodore Parker and Engineer James Cassidy, who are stationed at the depot in Reading, and the large force of laborers under them. Two immense hawsers were fastened to parts of the wrecked cars and attached to engines, which pulled against each other, thus breaking up the debris and allowing it to float down the stream. This greatly aided in the finding of the bodies.
Coroner "Hoffman was early on the ground this morning and be promptly impaneled a jury, composed of Dr. K. H. Schulze, of Reading, foreman, and William Mervine, Daniel Becker, A. S. Seidel, Adam Stough and J. J. Siedel, of Shoemakersville.
They viewed the bodies as fast as they were recovered and decided to begin the inquest on Monday.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE!
An Interesting Point to be Investigated at the Inquest.
Special Telegram to The Times.
Reading, September 20.
The railroad officials declare that the accident was unavoidable, but when the Coroner's inquest begins on Monday a very important inquiry, which may result in fixing the responsibility, will be vigorously pressed. Engineer Geary, of the coal train which was struck by the coal train of which Engineer Vaile was in charge, does not know exactly how long it was before he discovered that a portion of his train had broken loose. The rear train was so close to the lost cars, however, that there was no time to signal to Engineer Vaile to stop.
The question which is thought to be pertinent for strict and thorough investigation is did the second coal train keep the distance prescribed in the train-master's instructions behind the first.
The Times correspondent called on Superintendent Cable, at the railroad station in Reading, to obtain information on this point this afternoon. The superintendent said that while the coal trains were supposed to be thirteen minutes apart at Perry it was necessary for them to close the distance somewhat in order for them both to make the Baine siding at Mohrsville. He also stated that the distance from Perry to the scene of the accident was one and three-tenths miles and that the siding was about one and a half miles further on.
"Was it necessary in order to make the siding that the trains should close nearly all of the thirteen-minute gap in 1.3 miles, when they still had 1 1-2 miles to go?" was asked.
"That I cannot answer until we arrive at the result of the investigation which we are now making into the matter," replied the superintendent. "I do not know yet whether anyone is to blame, but I can safely say that the engineer of the first coal train is entirely free from any responsibility," he added. "How about the engineer of the second coal train?" asked The Times correspondent. "Did he keep the required distance in the rear of the train which preceded him?" "That I cannot answer," said the superintendent.
STORIES OF SURVIVORS.
What Some Injured Men and Others Who Escaped Say.
Special Telegram to The Times.
Reading, September 20.
Thomas Cooney, of Philadelphia, one of the Injured men, said to-day that he passed through a terrible experience in getting out of the wreck with his life. Mr. Cooney was on his way to Pottsville to visit his brother, John Cooney, who resides there.
"I was sitting in the smoker," said Air. Cooney at the hospital, " when I suddenly felt the shock of the engine being reversed. The next moment I heard a grinding noise and I know the car had left the track; then the car toppled over and I was struck by something in the head and face and lost consciousness for a moment. When I recovered I was lying on my face with a heavy mass of wood pressing the back of my neck and a piece of iron under my throat. My left hand was in the water and the arm was pinioned, I succeeded in raising the weight from the back of my neck with my right hand and then I crawled out I passed an old man who was struggling to free himself and tried to help him, but I was blinded with blood and so weak that I could barely help myself. I got free, and in doing so passed over two dead bodies, and when I began to climb the bank, someone grabbed me and pulled me up. The next thing I knew I found myself at the Reading Hospital."
Mr. Cooney telegraphed to his brother-in-law, Thomas McMonagle, in Philadelphia, who came up on an early train to-day. John Cooney, brother of the wounded man, came on from Pottsville, and they took their injured relative home this afternoon.
Mr. Ryland, of Philadelphia, who lies at the hospital with a broken leg, also telegraphed home and his son and daughter came up and are now in attendance upon him.
John Straub, of Schuylkill Haven, another one of the injured, said: " I was in the third car. I knew something was wrong when I heard a scraping sound, and when we were hurled over the bank I landed upright, with my feet in the water and my body wedged in by heavy timbers. Two men were dead at my feet. Several men worked nearly two hours, to get me out.
Benjamin F. Beecher said" "When the crash came I ran to the rear door to get out, but found it impossible. I broke my way out of a window and caught a piece of timber floating in the river. Then I was soon picked up."
Mr. Carroll said: " Mr. Byrnes, my son and I were in the smoking car. All I know is that there was a terrible crash when our car fell over and another car was thrown over the one we were in. This covered us up. There were about twenty persons in the smoker. We crept out of the windows and were at the edge of the water and were rescued."
Frederick Seaman, one of the owners of the radiator and boiler works, 212 South Eighth street, Reading, who escaped uninjured, said: "I was in the fifth car. I was thrown clear over my seat and stunned for a moment. When I regained my senses I smashed a window and climbed out, and luckily succeeded in making my way up the bank. I had not reached the water or I might have lost my life."
AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT.
The Company Gives Out Conclusions as to the Cause.
The result of the company's investigation into the cause that led to the accident was stated by an official of the company, and the conclusion arrived at is that it was not due to neglect, but an unfortunate combination of circumstances.
The accident occurred in about this way: A coal train running south, parted near Shoemakersville station leaving a portion of the train standing on the track. Another coal train was following. A curve in the track at this point prevented the engineer of the last train from seeing the first and the second train, although not running very rapidly, could not be stopped, dashed into the detached portion of the first coal train, throwing several cars over on to the northbound track. The fast express train was about due, but sufficient time did not elapse between the first collision and the arrival of the passenger train to give any notice.
As nearly as can be ascertained the passenger train struck the obstructing coal cars not more than one minute after they were thrown on the northbound track.
19. Newspaper: The Evening Herald, 6 Nov 1891, Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 30 Cane Presentation.
Among the pleasant things said and done at the Rescue Hook & Ladder Company's banquet, Tuesday evening, we overlooked one of the most important. It was the presentation of a handsome gold-headed cane to the veteran member of the company, Benjamin F. Beacher. The presentation on behalf of the company was made by B. G. Hess and David Morgan received the cane in behalf of Mr. Beacher. It is a beauty and the recipient deserved it.
20. Pension on 3 Mar 1892 in Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. On March 3, 1892, Benjamin filed a Declaration for Invalid Pension stating he is unable to earn a support by manual labor by reason of an injured left ankle joint and scrotal hernia of right testicle. He claimed a military pension stating that he enrolled on the 12th of February 1864 in Co. F, 7th Reg. Pa. Cavalry and was discharged at Macon, Georgia on the 23rd August 1865.
His application includes affidavits by William Bolinsky and David Morgan who swore Benjamin had rheumatism of his left ankle from the September, 1890 railroad accident at Shoemakersville, plus was working at the West Shenandoah Colliery when he was sprained throwing a large lump of coal over causing a rupture of his right testicle.
21. Newspaper: Evening Herald: Beacher Home Affected by Mine Cave-In, 27 Jun 1896, Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 31 Extensive Cave-In
Properties on Line Street Damaged by Kehley RunWorkings.
Several properties belonging to the P. & R. C. & I. Company and located in the vicinity of the corner of Catherine and Line streets were badly damaged yesterday by a caving in of workings in the Kehley Run colliery. Fissures from one to three feet deep and several inches wide extend for a distance of about three hundred yards in the northeasterly direction from Apple alley, across Catherine street and to the south side of Line street.
The houses effected on the west side of Catherine street are occupied by Patrick Purcell, Peter Smith, Joseph Flock and School Director John T. Lee. The Smith and Purcell houses suffered the most. Nearly the entire foundation walls of these houses have tumbled into heaps in the cellars and the buildings are kept up by cribbing. The Lee and Flock houses are in such a condition that the doors cannot be locked and it is impossible to move many of the window sashes.
At the southeast corner of Catherine and Line streets are two P. & R. houses occupied by the families of Benjamin Beecher and John Delphing and they present a toppling appearance, the north foundation walls having dropped about a foot. The house of Abe. Grosskettler, on the northwest corner, has also dropped about a foot and is being cribbed up. Nothwithstanding the situation, none of the tenants of any of the properties appear alarmed and all say they will continue to live in the houses, unless the P. & R. company orders them out. They say there has been a gradual sinking for the past five years int hat vicinity and the worst is over.
At the southeast corner of the intersection of Catherine and Line streets there is a land mark showing the junction of the Kehley Run and Kohinoor territories and at this point a pit is forming. The disturbance was caused by workings in the Kehley Run mines and this morning three car loads of timber were sent into the place.
The cave-in pulled out three joints of pipe of the public water works on North Catherine street and Superintendent Betteridge was obliged to use a sleeve in making repairs.
22. Newspaper: Miners Journal: Benjamin Beacher Pallbearer, 17 Oct 1898, Pottsville, Schuylkill, PA. 32 The funeral of Constable John Dando, who was murdered last week by Woczyk Bialecki, at Shenandoah, took place yesterday afternoon and was one of the largest ever seen in that town. Dando was a popular and well-known man, and people came from all parts of the county to be present at the funeral. The vicinity of his residence on West Cherry street was thronged with people and several thousand persons viewed the remains. The services were held at 2 o'clock by Rev. Moore, pastor of the Primitive Methodist Church. Burial was made in Odd Fellows' Cemetery and the following organizations were in the long procession: Grant Band, Watkins Waters Post, No. 146, G. A. K., of Shenandoah; Severn Post, No. HO, G. A R. , of Mahanoy City; Henry Horncustle Camp, No 49, Sons of Veterans; Volunteers of the Spanish war; the regular and special police force, constables and Justices of the Peace. The pall bearers were John Williams and James Welsh, of Severn Post; Thomas May, Benjamin Beacher, F. H Hopkin, Sr., and John Grady, of Watkins Waters Post. The constables of Shenandoah sent as a floral offering a beautiful star with the inscription, "Faithful Until Death.- Deputy Coroner Manley held an inquest on Saturday evening. Deputy District Attorney Moran and Stenographer Martin Moore were present. The jury found a verdict, that "John Dando came to his death on October 13, 1898, from the effects of a gunshot wound, said wound having been inflicted by a gun in the hands of Woczyk Bialecki. Bialecki is still at large and although a number of suspects have been arrested no clue to his hiding place has been secured.
23. Newspaper: The Evening Herald: Officers Elected, 2 Jun 1899, Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 33 A semi-annual election of officers was held last evening by the Rescue Hook & Ladder Company, of town, with the following result: President, John G. Jones; Vice President, Louis Katz; Recording Secretary, R. D. Reese; Financial Secretary, Jonas Gilfillian; Trustees, Christ. Baltzer and B. F. Beacher; Chief Foreman, William Emanuel.
24. He appeared on the census in 1900 in Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 34 The 1900 census recorded renting a home at 118 West Apple Avenue: Benjamin F. Beacher, coal miner, 55, born May 1845, widowed, living with son Benjamin, candy manufacturer, 22, Feb 1878, single; daughter Mary, 20, Dec 1879, single; and son Arthur G., 16, Jul 1883, single. Everyone and their parents were born in Pennsylvania and all could read, write, and speak English.
25. Residence: a home he rented at 118 West Apple Avenue on 5 Jun 1900 in Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 34
26. Book: History of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, 1907. 3
Benjamin F. Beacher, Sr., still resides in Shenandoah, where his wife died at the age of forty-five years. Of their children two sons and five daughters are living - Arthur G., a prominent painter and decorator in Shenandoah; Emma, wife of Alford Harrox [Horrox], of that city; Laura, wife of Thomas Heywood, of Girardville, Pa.; Sarah, who resides at Mount Carmel; Angeline, widow of Isiah Womer, residing at North Braddock, Pa.; Benjamin F., Jr., the immediate subject of this sketch; and Mary, wife of William Derrick, of North Braddock. The father was a loyal and valiant solider of the Union during the Civil war, as a member of Company F, 7th Pennsylvania cavalry, which command made a gallant record. He is now living retired, making his home with the subject of this sketch.
27. He appeared on the census in 1910 in Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 35 36 The 1910 census recorded owning the home and candy store at 35 North Main Street: Benjamin F Beacher, confectionery merchant, 33, living with wife Bertha, 25; daughter Ruth, 4; and son Paul, 1. Also in the home was his father Benjamin Beacher, Sr., 65, and Cora Smith, an 18-year-old servant. Everyone and their parents were born in Pennsylvania.
28. Cause of Death: Benjamin died at 5:05 a.m. From senelity, poleuisy & la grippe, duration 6 days., 22 Nov 1922, Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 10
29. Residence: 35 N. Main St. On 22 Nov 1922 in Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA. 10
30. Tombstone: Plot: Section 17 Row 3, 25 Nov 1922, Shenandoah Heights: Odd Fellows Cemetery, Schuylkill, PA. Tombstone photo at http://billiongraves.com/pages/record/BenjaminFranklinBeacher/2602027
31. Book: Benjamin and John Jacob: Two Beacher Brothers in the Civil War, 2010.
Benjamin and John Jacob: Two Beacher Brothers in the Civil War
by Jonathan Beacher, great-grandson of Benjamin
As young boys, Benjamin and John Jacob Bicher (pronounced Bee-cher) heard stories about the Revolutionary War battles fought by their great-grandfather, Jacob Bicher. Likely they recalled these legends when they were Civil War volunteers in Company F of the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
When the young men enlisted, the army records misspelled their last names as Beacher, not Bicher, and Benjamin and John Jacob and the rest of their family decided to forever keep the army's misspelling for fear of losing the Civil War fame and pensions, although other family branches today remain Bichers, Beechers, or Biechers.
Their great-grandad Jacob Bicher spoke German, as did his father Engel who immigrated in 1751 on the ship Neptune to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Jacob was born in 1758 and following military service in the Revolution became a prosperous farmer and a founder of the Salem Lutheran Church in Lebanon, Pa. He was buried at the church in 1842 three years before Ben was born.
Benjamin was lucky to even be born, because his grandfather Jacob 2nd (1782-1812) had died of a self-inflicted sickle wound while farming his crops six months before Ben's father was born in Lebanon on December 22, 1812. The fatherless son, Jacob 3rd, as a young lad fell in love with Angeline, the daughter of family friend Bernard Eisenhuth, and when she left with her father to go "over the Blue Mountain" into the wilderness of Centre County to purse lumbering, Jacob Bicher later followed.
In 1837, Jacob married Angeline Eisenhuth in Pottsville, Schuylkill County, Pa. and soon after their children were born: William, August 1, 1838; John Jacob, Jan 12, 1840; Hiram, July 1843; Benjamin Franklin, May 16, 1845; George, October 1847; Nathan, October 22, 1849; and Ann Mary, May 1852.
In 1850 the U.S. Census recorded young John Jacob, 11, and Benjamin, 6, living in the South Ward of Pottsville, Pa. with father Jacob Bieger, obviously the best spelling the census taker could make of Jacob's heavy German accent pronouncing Bicher. Jacob's occupation was tailor.
Just before the outbreak of the war, the 1860 Census recorded the father and sons all working as day laborers with the family living in Broad Mountain post office in New Castle Township.
The Civil War Comes to Pennsylvania
It wasn't until 1863 when General Lee was advancing into Pennsylvania that the boys were confronted with the war. Five days after Confederates crossed the state line, the eldest Beacher sons William and John Jacob enlisted on June 19, 1863 in Company A of the 27th Regiment, emergency troops. On June 24, the regiment, under Colonel Frick, was sent to Columbia on the Susquehanna River to prevent the enemy from crossing the bridge to Lancaster and Philadelphia.
The troops took position upon the heights on the right river bank, a half mile back from Wrightsville. On the evening of the 28th, the Confederates attacked. Frick had no artillery, but held ground until outnumbered and outflanked. He ordered withdrawal across the bridge. A pre-set explosion failed to destroy the bridge and the men had to fire it. Nine were wounded. Then the rebels learned that the Army of the Potomac was on its flank and withdrew to Gettysburg. On July 31st when the threat of a Confederate invasion was over, William and John Jacob were mustered out and returned home.
The family thought their involvement in the war was over until Benjamin volunteered for the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry in 1864. Ben's record in the Pennsylvania State Archives indicates when he enrolled he lied about his age, saying he was 20 when he was in fact 18:
Mustered in: 2-12-64 at Pvt. At Pottsville, PA.
Mustered out: 8-23-65, discharged, Macon, GA
Age at enrollment: 20
Complexion: Dark, Height: 5'3", Eyes: Grey, Hair: Brown
Residence: Pottsville, born Schuylkill Co., PA.
The family story goes that big brother John Jacob enrolled on the same day in order to protect little Ben, and John Jacob's enlistment record shows the 22 year-old was an engineer with a dark complexion, 5 foot 1 ½" tall with grey eyes and brown hair.
Seeing his brothers in uniform, eldest brother William re-enlisted as a private in Company C, 194th Regiment Infantry, at Pottsville, on July 13, 1864. The regiment was sent to Baltimore for provost duty before returning to Harrisburg, where William was mustered out of the service on November 6, 1864.
Their little brother Nathan never served in the military but according to stories told to Benjamin's grandson Bruce: "Never tied down by the military or marriage, Nathan had contributed to the war effort by "procuring" horses for the 7th Cavalry, presumably for his brothers' benefit, and not necessarily by legal means."
Adventures during the Civil War
The two Beacher brothers made way to Harrisburg where the train took them to Columbia, Tennessee, south of Nashville. Here the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry was reforming in late February, and the many new recruits arriving would engage in drills to learn from the veterans of the 1862-63 campaigns how to fight as horsemen. The men received fresh horses, new sabers, and Spencer carbines - unique because they could rapidly fire 7-shot cartridges, a major advantage over the Rebel guns which fired single shots and were slow to load. By late April, they were finally ready to head out to face the enemy.
The 7th Pa Cavalry, together with the 4th Michigan Cavalry and the 4th U. S. Cavalry, and the Chicago Board of Trade artillery, were commanded as a brigade under Colonel Robert H. G. Minty. Minty's 1st Brigade was one of three brigades in Brigadier General Kenner Garrard's 2nd Division Cavalry, Army of the Cumberland.
Sherman's Atlanta Campaign
On April 30, 1864, Minty's Brigade marched east from Columbia with 2,200 men, 1,994 of them mounted cavalry. They crossed the Cumberland, Raccoon, Lookout, and Pigeon Mountains, reaching on May 10th Villanow, Georgia, where General Sherman was staging his troops before heading south to conquer Atlanta.
On May 15th, they encountered their first skirmish at Farmer's Bridge, just north of Rome, Georgia. Riding south, on May 19th they captured Gillem's Bridge near Kingston, needed so the infantry could cross the Etowah River. On May 24th, they were first to arrive in Dallas, Georgia, and discovering the enemy had heavily fortified the hilly terrain there, held on until McPherson's Army of the Tennessee arrived.
The Battle of Dallas lasted from May 25 to June 1st, with the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry working to control roads and attacking the Confederate line's flank from the rear, for which General McPherson sent his thanks to Minty.
On June 1st, Sherman ordered Garrard's cavalry to join Stoneman's cavalry on a critical mission - heading to the northeast to take control of the railroad at Allatoona Pass, without which Sherman had no way to bring from Tennessee by train the food, supplies, and reinforcements needed for his army.
On June 9th, the cavalry rode south into Big Shanty , driving the Rebel infantry and Martin's cavalry for several miles back toward Kennesaw Mountain.
From June 10th to July 2nd, while the Union army held the Confederates in defense on Kennesaw Mountain, the cavalry's mission was to protect the left flank of Sherman's army from repeated attacks by the Confederates: Wheeler's Cavalry as well as infantry. A major skirmish occurred at McAfee's Crossroads on June 11th and a horrible battle at Noonday Creek on June 20th with heavy losses when the Rebel's attempted to break around Sherman's left flank, but were stopped by Garrard's cavalry.
On July 3rd following the retreat of the Rebels from Kennesaw Mountain, the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry protected the railroad through Marietta, then on the 4th of July were ordered to explore east along the Chattahoochee River, pushing back Rebel resistance in an effort to learn where Sherman's infantry could safely cross the river to reach Atlanta.
The 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry were first to capture Roswell, Georgia on July 5th, a major factory town supplying the Confederates with supplies. The next day, they burned the factories and mills there, sending over 300 women workers as prisoners to Marietta to be sent by train to Indiana.
On July 9th at Roswell, under fire they waded across the Chattahoochee River, driving away the Confederates protecting the south bank, and holding it until infantry reinforcements could arrive to control the river crossing and build a new bridge to replace one the Confederates had burned.
The cavalry also captured McAfee's Bridge further up river, which they later crossed on July 17th on their way to Stone Mountain, where they destroyed miles of railroad on July 18th cutting off the Rebel's supply of food, ammunition, and soldiers shipped Augusta, the Carolinas and Virginia.
On July 21st, Sherman dispatched the cavalry on a second dangerous raid, this time even further east to Covington and Social Circle, destroying the railroad tracks, locomotives, and important road and rail bridges over rivers.
On July 27th, Sherman again launched a raid, wherein Stoneman's Cavalry was to head further south to cut off the Macon Railroad's supply line into Atlanta, while Garrard's Cavalry would remain north near Flat Rock to fool Wheeler's rebel cavalry to engage Garrard, rather than discover and follow Stoneman's raid. This plan failed when Stoneman made mistakes that led to his capture.
From August 1st to 14th, as Sherman's armies formed a half-circle surrounding Hood's army defending Atlanta, Garrard's cavalry was ordered to dismount and get into the trenches on Sherman's left flank.
Finally on the 15th, the horse soldiers were able to return to their steeds and now traveling around the north side of Atlanta all the way west to Sandtown on the Chattahoochee River, they prepared for their most daring mission of the Atlanta campaign. Kilpatrick's 3rd Cavalry Division was combined with two of the brigades from Garrard's division, including Minty's Brigade and the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Kilpatrick was ordered to sneak this massive cavalry behind enemy lines to destroy the West Point railroad linking Atlanta to Alabama, and then push further to tear up the Macon Railroad linking Atlanta to the south. Sherman knew cutting all the railroad supplies would force the Confederate General Hood to surrender Atlanta.
On the 18th of August they departed on this dangerous mission, which would last several days and nights without any time to sleep or find food for their horses. They reached Jonesboro on the 19th, battling rebel cavalry and infantry into the town so they could destroy the railroad. But by the time they reached the next station to the south, Lovejoy Station, on the morning of the 20th the Confederates were ready for them.
Kilpatrick's cavalry soon was surrounded by thousands of Rebel infantry near the railroad, and Wheeler's cavalry on their other side. With no way to escape, the only way to survive was to try a daring and dangerous charge directly into the Rebel line of fire of rifles and cannons, breaking through the enemy lines. The famous Sabre Charge, with swords swinging as they charged the Confederates, enabled many of the men to escape, although the losses were very heavy especially with Minty's brigade who did most of the fighting. Today, the site of this battle is preserved as a park whose website has considerable information about the battle at http://www.henrycountybattlefield.com .
Returning to Atlanta, the men and horses of the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry were exhausted and wounded following Kilpatrick's Raid, so they were assigned to easier duty patrolling and protecting the Chattahoochee River from Sandtown north to Roswell from August 25th until September 2nd, while the rest of Sherman's army was moving around Atlanta to cut off Hood's army resulting in infantry battles at Jonesboro and Lovejoy Station.
On the evening of September 1st, giant explosions and fires were heard and seen in Atlanta, and Sherman wondered if that meant the rebels were destroying their ammunition supplies and important parts of the city before they were to abandon it. On September 2nd, Sherman ordered Minty to dispatch a cavalry patrol toward the city to see if the Rebels were still there in force, and the 7th Pennsylvania horsemen were among the first to reach the city and send the good news that Atlanta had been abandoned and won.
The 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry had lost many men and horses, and rather than go with Sherman on his famous March to the Sea, they were ordered to remain to protect Atlanta during September, then into the fall to ride to the northwest to Rome to drive out the enemy that had retreated from Atlanta. Finally, they were told to abandon their exhausted horses and ride by train to Louisville, Kentucky, to reorganize at year's end.
Benjamin in Jail in Kentucky
On Ben's Civil War pension (discussed later) it indicates he was "under arrest" in Louisville at the end of 1864. Apparently while on holiday leave in Louisville, the cavalry men were known to party, so much so, that somehow Benjamin Beacher ran afoul of the local law. He didn't return to army duty on December 31st when expected, and when they went looking for him, it was learned Ben was in arrest at Louisville from December 15, 1864 until February 28, 1865, when he finally was allowed to return to cavalry duty.
Across Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia in 1865
In 1865 the cavalry regiment was stationed at Gravelly Springs, Alabama, on the Tennessee River, where it was engaged in drilling and completing its organization and equipment for the spring campaign of 1865. On the 22nd of March it joined the command of General James H. Wilson, and with it set out on the expedition from Eastport, Mississippi across the Gulf States. On the 1st of April, the cavalry was engaged in the battle of Plantersville, Alabama, and on the following day, arrived in front of Selma. The position of the regiment in the line of march for that day was third, in the advance brigade of General Long's Division; but upon arriving near the city, the cavalry was ordered to the front to lead the assault upon the works.
The regiment was fearfully exposed, and lost heavily in killed and wounded. Lieutenant Jacob Sigmond was among the killed. Col. McCormick fell severely wounded at the foot of the works, as the regiment, in advance of all others, was about entering the fortifications. The command now devolved on Lieutenant Colonel Andress, and under him the regiment participated in the engagement near Columbus, Georgia, on the 16th of April. On the 20th it arrived at Macon, Georgia, where, the war having substantially closed. Their duty in the region surrounding Macon was to protect the area and enforce law and order, but they were ordered to purse one additional and important mission: try to capture Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who was rumored to be trying to escape through Georgia.
The Capture of Jefferson Davis
On May 9th, Minty deployed the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry, the 4th Michigan Cavalry, and the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry to search the areas near Irwinsville, Georgia where Davis might be. Early in the morning of the 10th, the 1st Wisconsin and the 4th Michigan, unknown to each other, approached Davis' campsite, and suddenly found they were under fire until they discovered it was the two cavalry units exchanging friendly fire. Davis was captured and a dispute ensued as to which of the cavalry units actually caught him and was entitled to a $100,000 reward offered for his capture. This dispute was finally settled by the U.S. Congress with the reward divided among members of both cavalry units. Left out was the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry, in the area near Davis but not lucky to be on the scene.
The cavalry remained on duty near Macon until the 23rd of August, when they were mustered out. The boys then had to find their way by train back to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Life after the War
During the war, Shenandoah changed when coal mining began in earnest in 1862. Seeking the high wages offered, once back at home the Beacher boys took jobs as coal miners in Shenandoah, establishing a new home on Cherry street in addition to keeping their old home in Broad Mountain. In the 1870 census their father Jacob appears in Broad Mountain with his wife Angeline and William, George, Nathan and Mary; and in Shenandoah the census again records Angeline with William, Hiram, Benjamin, George, Nathan and Mary. The census records the men are all employed as miners.
At war's end, Benjamin still missed the excitement of being a cavalryman who awoke at 3 a.m. to the bugle call to battle. In Shenandoah the best substitute was a fire alarm bell ringing in the night, so Ben joined the volunteer fire company as soon as it was created. Now he was fighting fires rather than rebels!
Ben's grandson, Bruce (1919-2004), wrote in his family history about his grandfather who "frequented the Rescue, Hook and Ladder Co. fire station, of which he was a charter member, imbibing spirits freely while reliving his exploits as a Civil War cavalryman to his cronies."
Benjamin was also a member of the International Order of Odd Fellows, Shenandoah Lodge #591.
Benjamin Beacher's Family Life
The family bible of B. F. Beacher has these inscriptions:
That the rite of Holy Matrimony was celebrated between
Benjamin F. Beacher, Sr. of Newcastle Twp., Schuylkill Co.
and Sarah Jane Jacobs of the same
on the 13th day of May 1866 at Fountain Springs, Pa.
by the Reverend Mr. Dengler.
bro Jacob Beacher, witness
girlfriend Angeline Ocom, witness
Later that year, Jacob married his girlfriend Angeline, and we describe their family later on.
Ben's wife, Sarah Jane, was born in 1846, the daughter of Mary Hood and William Jacobs who was described in the History of Schuylkill County as "an honored pioneer of the county and in the early days, before the establishing of railroad lines, he drove a stage between Pittsburg and Baltimore."
Ben and Sarah Jane Beacher began their family in 1868. The first child died soon after birth in 1868, Hiram Grant Beacher, named for Ben's brother Hiram and U.S. General Grant.
Daughter Emma Margaret was born in 1869; Laura in 1871; Sarah Jane, named for her mother, in 1873; Angeline, named for her grandmother, in 1875; Benjamin Franklin Beacher Jr. in 1877; Mary, named for her grandmother, in 1879; Charlotte in 1881; Arthur Garfield in 1883; and John Jacob, named for his grandfather and Ben's brother, in 1885.
Tragically, on May 18, 1886, Ben's wife Sarah died, leaving him to care for his younger children.
In 1890, a census index showed 45-year old coal miner Benjamin Beacher living alone with five children: Sallie, Linda, Benjamin, Mary and Archie, at 3 Apple Alley in Shenandoah.
Benjamin Almost Dies in the Great Railroad Accident
A great tragedy occurred on September 19, 1890 where Benjamin watched 35 people die before his eyes. He was lucky to survive.
He had been attending a State Firemen's Convention in Chester, Pa. and was returning home by train on the Pottsville Express, loaded with firemen and many visitors to the Berks County Fair.
The train was late leaving the Reading station at 5:42 p.m. so the engineer was moving at a high rate of speed, approaching Shoemakersville on a bend twenty feet above the Schuylkill River, when the engineer was stunned to see the track ahead blocked by a wreck between freight and coal trains.
What happened next was described in a September 19th New York Times: "As it was, the engine dashed into the wreck and then plunged down the steep sides of the embankment, followed by the remainder of the entire train. There was a hissing of steam, a plunging of the waters as they received their prey, a crashing of timbers, and screams of agony and fright from 150 people in the imprisoned passenger cars."
"The horrors of the scene of disaster are simply indescribable, and it will take the daylight of to-morrow to fully reveal the awful wreck and ruin wrought. The engine lies in the bottom of the river, whose waters are about five feet deep and the baggage, mail, and passenger cars are also in the water, while at this hour, 10 o'clock, 300 men are at work taking out the dead and dying."
Among the injured listed in the New York Times report is "B. Franklin Beecher, Shenandoah, left hip badly cut and legs hurt."
Ben had trouble walking from then on, because a year later, the November 6, 1891 edition of the Shenandoah Evening Herald carried the following story:
Among the pleasant things said and done at the Rescue Hook & Ladder Company's banquet, Tuesday evening, we overlooked one of the most important. It was the presentation of a handsome gold-headed cane to the veteran member of the company, Benjamin F. Beacher. The presentation on behalf of the company was made by B. G. Hess and David Morgan received the cane in behalf of Mr. Beacher. It is a beauty and the recipient deserved it.
On March 3, 1892, Benjamin filed a Declaration for Invalid Pension stating he is unable to earn a support by manual labor by reason of an injured left ankle joint and scrotal hernia of right testicle. He claimed a military pension stating that he enrolled on the 12th of February 1864 in Co. F, 7th Reg. Pa. Cavalry and was discharged at Macon, Georgia on the 23rd August 1865.
On May 31, 1892, pension certificate 671866 was issued for claim 1097297.
His pension records include affidavits in July, 1893 by William Bolinsky and David Morgan who swore Benjamin had rheumatism of his left ankle caused by the September, 1890 railroad accident at Shoemakersville, plus was working at the West Shenandoah Colliery when he was sprained throwing a large lump of coal over causing a rupture of his right testicle.
On November 23, 1893 the pension bureau verified his military service but also noted he was under arrest in Louisville and missing from action from December 15, 1864 until February 28, 1865.
Benjamin Lives with his son Benjamin
On June 5, 1900 the census recorded at 118 W. Apple Avenue Benjamin Beacher, coal miner, age 55, living with son Benjamin, 22; daughter Mary, 20; and son Arthur, 16.
In the History of Schuylkill County, published in 1907, an article appeared about his son, Benjamin, who had become a prosperous candy maker, and mentioned his father as follows:
"Benjamin F. Beacher, Sr., still resides in Shenandoah, where his wife died at the age of forty-five years. Of their children two sons and five daughters are living - Arthur G., a prominent painter and decorator in Shenandoah; Emma, wife of Alfred Horrox, of that city; Laura, wife of Thomas Heywood, of Girardville, Pa.; Sarah, who resides at Mount Carmel; Angeline, widow of Isiah Womer, residing at North Braddock, Pa.; Benjamin F., Jr., the immediate subject of this sketch; and Mary, wife of William Derrick, of North Braddock. The father was a loyal and valiant solider of the Union during the Civil war, as a member of Company F, 7th Pennsylvania cavalry, which command made a gallant record. He is now living retired, making his home with the subject of this sketch."
In the 1910 Census in Shenandoah, 65-year old Benjamin was living in the home owned by his son Benjamin, 33, with his daughter-in-law Bertha and his grandchildren: Ruth, 4, and Paul, 1.
Even as he grew old, Ben spent evenings at the fire station, where he told stories about the Saber Brigade during the Civil War.
Always ready to pursue adventure, 77-year old Ben Sr. responded to an emergency fire call in severe winter weather and contracted pneumonia. He died at 5:05 a.m. on November23, 1922, while living in son Ben's home above his candy shop at 35 N. Main Street in Shenandoah. He was buried in Odd Fellows Cemetery in Shenandoah Heights.
John Jacob Beacher's Family Life
Soon after the Civil War, John Jacob married Angeline Ocum, born May 3, 1845, the daughter of Mary A. Miller and Daniel Ocum of Pottsville.
Their children were born: Mary Ellen, 1867; Laura, 1870; George, 1871; Thomas F., 1874; Catherine A., 1876; Harry Elmore, 1878; and Malissa, 1883.
The 1870 Census shows Jacob Beacher Jr., laborer, living with Angeline and daughter Mary in Broad Mountain. Since no real estate value is listed, likely John Jacob is living in a home on the same land owned by his father, Jacob, in Broad Mountain. In 1880 he is a miner recorded living in Shenandoah with Angeline and children Mary, Thomas and Catherine.
On May 16, 1892, Angeline filed an application 1112513 for John Jacob's Civil War pension. It was re-filed as of January 3, 1916 as application number 1058134. The service records indicated on the form are Company A 27th Pa Mil Infantry and Company F 7th PA Cavalry.
The 1910 Census reports Jacob Beacher, 70 years old, was living alone with his wife, Angeline, age 65. It records they were married for 44 years at the time, and had 8 children, 4 of whom were still living.
John Jacob Beacher died on December 20, 1915, and was buried in Odd Fellows Cemetery in St. Clair, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania with Angeline who died three years later.
Benjamin married Sarah Jane Jacobs, daughter of William James Jacobs Sr. and Mary Ann Hough, on 13 May 1866 in Fountain Springs, Schuylkill, PA.1 2 (Sarah Jane Jacobs was born in 1846 in New Castle, Schuylkill County, PA,1 24 37 38 died on 18 May 1886 in Shenandoah, Schuylkill, PA 1 2 38 and was buried in Shenandoah Heights: Odd Fellows Cemetery, Schuylkill, PA.)
They were married by Rev. Dengler.