Henry Strickler was the son of Joseph and Mary Snively Strickler. He was born in Antrim Township on February 28, 1834. By 1842, Mary Strickler was listed as a widow, on the Pennsylvania Septennial Census. Henry was one of four children. He went to public school and then graduated from the Greencastle Academy after which, Henry decided to become a saddle and harness maker. He then turned his attention to studying business at the Eastman National Business College, in Poughkeepsie, NY. After graduating, he went to work as a bookkeeper for the Repository and Transcript newspaper in Chambersburg.
When the Civil War began, Henry joined Greencastle's Co. K of the 126th PA Regiment. The regiment was camped in the Falmouth, VA area for most it’s tour of duty. The 126th fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862. During Gen. Humphrey's charge on Marye's Heights, a Confederate ball entered Sgt. Strickler’s left forearm, just above the wrist on the inside. Its path was vertical and exited just above the elbow, shattering all three bones near the joint. Henry was taken to the surgeons' tent, where the surgeon had no alternative but amputation. The family’s oral history says that Henry was visited the next morning by a good friend, who wanted to see how his friend was doing. Henry was doing as well as could be expected in 1862 but he had one lament. When his arm was amputated, Henry lost a ring that he was wearing. His friend, that I believe was Sgt. William Snyder, went to the pile of amputated limbs and searched until he found Henry’s left arm, and retrieved the ring. The rest of Henry’s duty time was spent in the hospital in Washington City. Henry was discharged on April 27, 1863, about three weeks before the rest of his comrades. He did not file for veteran’s benefits due to his amputation until May 1, 1863.
In June 1863, in spite of having lost his left arm, he was still required to register for a future draft call; he was put in Class I. His occupation was listed as justice of the peace.
You do what you have to do – his house at 54 North Carlisle Street was under construction, and with one arm, Henry climbed a ladder to inspect the roof. While he was on the roof, he looked south and saw the first Rebel troops entering Greencastle on South Carlisle Street, then known as Railroad Street. Through the ensuing week, he joined the rest of the townspeople by watching the thousands of troops march through town toward Gettysburg. As was the habit of some Confederates passing through town, one of the Southerners broke rank and headed toward Henry, who was standing there watching, wearing a new hat. In no uncertain words, Henry said, "You took my arm at Fredericksburg and I'll be damned if you'll take my hat!" The Rebel looked at the lifeless, left sleeve and returned to his ranks, without incident.
In 1863, Henry was elected to the first of two, three-year terms as Register and Recorder at the Franklin County Courthouse. He received an appointment as U. S. Storekeeper for the Internal Revenue Service, in 1872 for four years. Henry then spent nine years as deputy collector for Internal Revenue, after which he retired from Federal service.
At the age of almost 50, Henry married Anna M. Fleming on December 24, 1883. They had two children, Mary Ida and Arthur H. Fleming Strickler. According to the U.S. census in 1900, Henry and his wife and family were living at 205 North Carlisle Street. Their five-year old niece, Gladys Fleming, was living with them. Henry was 66 and a clerk in Pennsylvania's House of Representatives.
Henry Strickler died in Waynesboro, at 8 pm on November 1, 1909, at the age of 75 years, eight months, and three days. The cause of death was heart disease. His whole life’s work was spent in public service, from the local level to the federal level. Henry was a patriot, who was reminded of his “red badge of courage” every day from December 13, 1862 until the day he died. On December 3, 1909, Anna F. Strickler applied to receive Henry's pension, as his widow.
Henry was a charter member of the Corp. Rihl GAR Post #438. He was very active and held many positions. At the November 5, 1909 regular meeting, Commander Dr. Franklin A. Bushey presided. He announced the death of comrade Henry Strickler and it was recorded in the minutes. Henry lived to see the highline open on South Jefferson Street in February 1909. Although freight trains still made daily trips by his home, his street was considerably quieter because the train station, directly across Madison Street, on the corner of North Carlisle and West Madison Streets had been closed for nine months.
On long term loan to Allison-Antrim Museum, from the Helen Welch family, are personal items that belonged to Henry Strickler, including a sword (most likely a souvenir as infantrymen do not carry swords), GAR ribbons, a pocket prayer book, and the Civil War blouse he was wearing when he was shot. The bullet holes are quite evident.
Henry and Anna’s daughter Mary Keepers lived until January 17, 1967, not quite 82 years old. Their son Arthur died March 8, 1965; he was almost 79 years of age. Henry’s parents, Henry and Anna’s children and their spouses, and Henry’s brother Snively and his wife are all buried in the same family plot in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Section L, Lot 9.
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