Maria Ziegler Part 2 of 2
In August 1862, the young men of Greencastle and Antrim Township were asked to serve their country by fighting to save the Union. Maria’s brother Fred was drafted and enrolled in the 126th PA Regiment Volunteers. Fred’s letters home to his father were written about in this column in 2012 and 2013. Sixteen days before the Battle of Chancellorsville, Maria wrote the following letter to Fred.
“Front Page: Green Castle April 14th, „63 Dear Brother Fred
I have just returned from Grandma’s, and I have just finished eating a one of Aunt Cassie’s good cakes. it [sic] was baked in one of the little tin pans you bought at Jim Barr’s. I wish you had a nice plate full of them I know you would not object, to eating a few of them would you. Cousin Annie & Ann Lizzy Michael are coming here to spend the evening with Aunt Cassie. Ann Lizzy and your old friend Sue Diffenderfer starts for Baltimore to day two weeks Sue sayed [sic] on Sunday that perhaps they would come down to the Station to see all of you boy’s. [sic] Ann lizzy [sic] intends to spend the summer in Baltimore but Sue will only stay a month or so
Page 2: Ever since Friday the wether [sic] has been warm and plesant.[sic] we [sic] had a little
sprinkle of rain on Sunday [sic] but it cleared up again in few minutes. to day it is so warm and nice that we have the window open the one that looks out on the yard. I am setting [sic] at the one by the post office or rather what was the office as it is moved backe [sic] to the old place again. but [sic] for all we have the window up and it is nice and warm there is still a little fire in the stove but I am much afraid if I dont [sic] go and get some coal it will not be many minutes before there wont[sic] be. when [sic] I was comeing [sic] back to the house with the coal I suddenly spied some violets and droping [sic] the coal bucket I went to gather some for you. I then added a few Crocuses and little bunch of purple
Page 3: violets that I got from Grandma’s old garden. I guess when you come back the trunk
will be here and also its owner for I do not think Papa will start untill [sic] you return wont [sic] that be a happy day when you come back to us. Papa has granted the furlough and extended it to five months. he [sic] saied [sic] he had not made up his mind quite wether [sic] I was to stay or go untill [sic] you sent the furlough. but [sic] there is no danger of my going to Miss Burgess now. What do you think of her drowneding [sic] Grandma’s cat and of Florence Rowe Fred Heck and his friend Sam helping her yet. it [sic] was a hard piece of work and one I would not like to be grislly [sic] of. I beged [sic] her to give me the cat and I would get Mark to drop her at some farm house or barn if she did not want to let her stay
Page 4: at Grandma’s, but she answered, no she must die. I do wish Mrs McCauly would fine the whole party. I plague Fred a good deal about it I told him I was going to write to you about it. but [sic] what he hates worse than all I tease him and tell him that if Mrs. McCauly finds it out that she will make him pay a dollar and a quarter fine. Fred I am a thousand times obliged to you for the diamond pin you sent me. true [sic] to my promis [sic] I intend to wear it. Alice and I went to see Miss Maggie McCauly [sic] last night and I wore it in honer [sic] of the occasion. when I received it I thought I would never get done unbundleing [sic] it. I thought it surly [sic] must be very valuable. But when I came across that big lump of red cealling [sic] wax and a
Page 5: little end of white paper sticking out I knew what was up then. but for all you hoaxed me so badly I vaule [sic] the pin very much. This last picture of yours that you sent Papa is very good. if it only had not such red cheeks. that [sic] is all I do not like about it. Miss Burgess think it is not at all good and sayes [sic] it. looks as though it had Europe Asia and Africa behind it. we [sic] dont [sic] happen to agree on that point Papa think she would like it better if it had a cat in the back ground. While I am talking about pictures I must not forget to tell you that Miss Maggie McCauly [sic] want one of you she said you should please not forget her she was going to send you one of hers but did not like to she gave me a very good one yester day evening. Mrs Gray sayes [sic] you must not forget your
Page 6: old music teacher. I am very glad you side with me in regard to my stoping [sic] people (strangers especially) calling me by that hatefull [sic] name Sis I like it well enough in my own home but abroad I dislike it very much. I was at Waynesboro last week with Papa and had a very nice time. I drove old Charley the whole road home. I only wush [sic] I had a saddle and then I could learn to ride. Mark sayes [sic] Charley dont [sic] know how to scare. I went to see Aunt Nancy and Mrs [sic] Bender. Aunt Nancy is failing fast. I would never have knowen her. I must now close Annie sends her love to the Col and sayes [sic] she will write him soon. Aunt Eliza send hers to you and sayes [sic] she is going to stop calling me Sis. we [sic] all send much love take a larg [sic] share from me your loving Sister Maria E Ziegler
Page 7: P.S. Mr & Mrs (Edwin) Emerson and children sail for Europe to morrow. Papa had a letter from him also one inclosed [sic] for you. he had written you some months ago. but as he received no answer he sayes [sic] it must of miss carryed.[sic] Papa is in Chambersburg to day he intends to stay all night as there is a Union meetting [sic] there. good by [sic] please write soon to your loving Sister Maria”
Although from a privileged family, Maria was expected, when needed, to carry her own coal to keep the fire in the stove alive. Her actions showed that she was a young woman with initiative. How can a young lady resist picking a bouquet of wild flowers in the spring? Maria included such a bouquet of crocus and wild violets in her letter to Fred. As a driver’s permit is to 16-year olds today, so must driving a horse and buggy have been to 16-year old Maria, in 1863. She, also, had a great desire to learn to ride a saddled horse. Both were symbols of independence.
On page 3, Maria wrote, “I guess when you come back (May 20, 1863) the trunk will be here and also its owner (Maria) for I do not think Papa will start until [sic] you return wont [sic] that be a happy day when you come back to us. Papa has granted the furlough and extended it to five months (September 1863). he [sic] saied [sic] he had not made up his mind quite wether [sic] I was to stay or go, until [sic] you sent the furlough.” As the war progressed into 1862 and then 1863 and the Confederate Army marched closer and closer to the Potomac River, it appeared there was a great possibility that the Rebels would invade Pennsylvania. At that
point, George W. Ziegler contemplated the idea of sending his only, beloved daughter to a girls’ school in Pennington, NJ. Surely, his daughter would be out of harm’s way in New Jersey. When George found out that Fred and his comrades of the 126th were to be discharged on May 20, he postponed sending Maria away to school, until the fall. I have not yet found any record that indicates whether Maria was sent to NJ before the Battle of Gettysburg, which was just one and a half months after Fred’s discharge. Maria was eventually escorted, by Aunt Cassie, to Evergreen Hall, in Pennington, NJ. Evergreen Hall is where Maria’s mother and Aunt Cassie were educated. Fred resumed his college studies at Amherst, which were interrupted when he was drafted into the war. On February 10, 1864, Maria wrote the following letter to Fred.
“Envelope: Mr. G. Fred. Ziegler Amherst Mass.
Page 1: Evergreen Hall, Pennington Feb 10.64
I received your last letter yesterday and am glad to learn that you received at least one birth day present. I wish I could have finished your watch case in time. Since I received your letter telling me of the beautiful watch case Mead received I am almost ashamed to send you the one
I made but you must remember I can not procure any thing very handsome in Pennington. I should not be at all surprised if Meads case is of the same pattern of yours. I would much rather have made mine yours
Page 2: of velvet than worstered [sic] but I found that was out of the question as long as I was away from home and I did not fail to wish to make you wait so long. So if you wile [sic] please accept this watch case I wile [sic] try and make you a nicer one when I go home. I did not know whether you wished a pin cushion and needle book but took the liberty of making them for you. The needle book I thought would be useful to you and Mead, as you would prehaps [sic] wish to do some sewing these long winter nights. I am not at all jealous about your receiving Emma’s picture for I shall soon see the dear little thing. I often think of her and our Lancaster friends.
Page 3: I will write you but a short letter to day but before I close I will tell you what Mifs (f is s) Noble says in answer to one part of your letter. She requested me to tell you to inform Mr. Brown that she was willing to exchange pictures with him if he would send his first. She wishes to be remembered to both Mr. Brown and yourself. Hoping that the watch case will please I remain Your loving sister Maria Write very soon. I only send you the pincuishion [sic] and needle book for fun”
Victorian propriety would not allow a young lady to give an image of herself to an unmarried gentleman, without first receiving one from the young man. Maria and Fred were acting as liaisons between Mr. Brown and Miss Noble.
I very recently found Maria Elizabeth Zieglers’ obituary/elegy in The Pilot, dated March 29, 1864, on page 2, columns 4 and 5. It contained a wealth of information about who Maria was, as a person. Oddly, the Zieglers did not keep a copy of the obituary with Maria’s possessions.
Obituary. – "DIED – At Evergreen Hall Seminary," of Pneumonia, Maria Elizabeth Ziegler, daughter of George W. Ziegler, of his place, on Thursday morning, the 17th instant, at sunrise."
Such are the mournful tidings this week's issue of our paper bears to the community. She was an only daughter and leaves behind her an only brother, her younger brother "little Thessie," having been called away but a few years after the death of her mother.
On the Saturday evening preceding her death she was in the enjoyment of her usual health, and full of life a d joy. In company with her schoolmates she indulged for a while in harmless sport, for the promotion of health, in one of the schools; and when their innocent play was over and they sat down for rest and social conversation, she seated herself near an open window, through which the arrow from the quiver of Death was borne in on the soft night wind, and fatally pierced her young and joyous heart. Soon after she had retired to bed, she took a violent chill and died the following Thursday.
Maria Elizabeth Ziegler was born in Greencastle, on the 20th of February, A.D., 1847, and lost her mother on the morning (also about sunrise) of the following 17th day of March – just seventeen years before the morning of the day she herself was called to follow her, and she was thus, by an all–wise Providence, permitted for a few days only to nestle in the bosom of her mother, who yielded up her life so soon after having presented her as a sacred and holy gift from God to her family and friends. Upon her mother's death she descended to the arms of kind and loving kindred, under whose devoted care and tender and affectionate ministry she grew up to years of womanhood around her father's hearthstone, scarcely knowing or feeling a mother's loss. "Aunt Cassie" was almost as sacred a name to her as "mother," and it was one of the loved and cherished names that she continued to lisp with her dying breath, and while her aunt loved her through all her life with the deep fervor and intensity that characterize a mother's love toward her children, she never failed to receive in return the love and obedience, respect, and affection due to a mother from her child.
It was not permitted to her father and aunt, who hastened to Pennington as soon as they heard of her illness, to see her before she died. She had breathed her last, and her life had passed away calmly and sweetly as a child's without a moan or struggle, in the arms of Mrs. Boland, one of her loving friends of "Evergreen Hall," a few hours before their arrival; and when they entered the room whence her immortal spirit had taken its upward flight they found her, surrounded by weeping and sorrowing companions, sleeping in the cold embrace of death on the couch wherein she had just expired. When her remains were taken away from the Hall the whole school was wrapped in profound grief and sorrow, weeping for her loss and sudden and untimely death. The favorable and enduring impression which her short school life made upon her associates of the Seminary may be learned from the subjoined letter* of sympathy from a young lady who spent the first session with her there, and the beautiful and touching elegy which follows, called forth by her death and written by an inmate of "Evergreen Hall."
She was an obedient and dutiful child from her earliest years to the close of her life. Neither her father nor her aunt ever laid the hand of correction upon her, nor did they, her brother, or uncle or any of the inmates of the family ever receive an unkind word from her lips or frown from her face. – She always loved her home and was happy among her friends in her father's house, and her chief delight was in promoting the comfort and happiness of all around her. Her sympathies were deep and strong for the poor and humble, and nothing delighted her so much as an era d of mercy and charity to minister to the wants of the afflicted and relieve the necessities of the poor. She grew up in the love and fear of God. Humility, modesty, simplicity, and childlike innocence were the virtues that illustrated and adorned her brief yet lovely and consistent life.
She was buried in the Moss Spring graveyard, where she now sleeps in peace and quiet beside the graves of her mother and little brother, and where they will slumber, in sweet repose together, until the sound of the Archangel's trumpet on judgment morn shall awake them to immortal life. The gushing waters of Moss Spring still issue from the woody hillside near her grave, but her ear is now deaf to the sweet murmuring music of the brook as it flows through the adjacent meadows, and her serene sleep is undisturbed by the morning melody of the night winds as they seep through the tall and majestic oaks of the surrounding forest, singing a requiem to her memory and that of the slumbering dead in whose silent and sacred midst her ashes now repose.
"Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to whither at the North wind's breath,
And stars to set – but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O death!"
(I believe R. was W. A. Reid, who worked for James McCrory, owner and publisher of The Pilot and who was a contributing editor for The Pilot.)
The following best friend of Maria was not identified, other than her initials – F.C.D.
*"Pennington, March 20, 1864"
"Mr. Ziegler, – Dear Sir: – Pardon my presumption in writing you. For the sake of one whim we both loved. How I wish I could comfort you; but you will know where to look for help to bear this affliction. Maria was a dear friend of mine. I loved her next to my parents and brothers and sisters. She was real sister to me. The only one to whom I could open my heart, and talk freely of my hopes and fears. She has left me, and I know not what to do. I try to say “Thy will be done, O Lord,” and to feel that it is right. But… Maria often spoke to me of her desire to lead a Christian life, and I think she tried. I feel that she was at peace with her Maker, and that she has left her home on this earth for one much better – with her Savior.
“Will you pray for me… that I may have the hope of meeting her in that “Heavenly Home.” How many time I had pictured our meeting again on earth. The blow was so sudden, I cannot weep. It would relieve me if I could. She never was angry with me but always kind and gentle.
“In a long letter she wrote me once, she spoke of dying, and said she thought she would die young. She entreated me if that should be the case, and it were ever in my power, I should come and stand beside her grave; and I shall do so if I live. If it is ever in my power (though not for years) I shall do it. I never before knew what it was to mourn the loss of a dear friend.
“Mr. Ziegler… is there not one picture I can have? Perhaps I ought not to ask; but if you knew how I loved her and she loved me…
“My heart is full; I can write no more. Pray for me, and if my prayers are worth anything I will pray from the depths of my heart, that we and all who loved her, may be enabled to say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Lines suggested by the death of Miss Maria E. Ziegler, at “Evergreen Hall,” Pennington, N.J.,
March 17th, 1864.
Our fairest and our loveliest
Has faded from our sight,
It seems to us but yesterday
We heard her footsteps light
As to and fro she gaily tripped,
So full of mirth and glee.
She seemed a sunbeam in our path,
A joyous thing to see.
We loved her for her guilelessness,
Her sweet simplicity;
She gathered from her heart fresh flowers,
And strewed them cheerily.
We thought her future path looked bright,
Nor saw the gathering gloom,
We dreamed not that her sun must set
Ere it had reached its noon.
Oh death, thou lov’st a shining mark!
How quick thine arrow sped!
We turned to save her, but in vain,
Her spirit upward fled.
To Heaven we lift our waiting eyes
The Comforter to see,
We feel, O God, that she was thine,
And yield her up to thee.
Evergreen Hall, March 1864
The following is the transcription of a small note sent to Cassie Fatzinger.
Envelope’s Return Address: Evergreen Hall Female Seminary Misses Hale Principals and Proprietors, Pennington, New Jersey
Addressed To: Miss L. Cassie Fatzinger. Greencastle. Pa.
The note says: “Ribbon used for tying crape at the door, Evergreen Hall, Pennington March 17th 1864.”
The note is not signed. Included in the envelope is an ivory colored, silk ribbon, which is 2 ¼ inches wide by four feet long. It was the custom during the Victorian era to hang black crepe on the front door to indicate the death of someone within the residence. The ivory silk ribbon in the envelope was evidently used to hang the crepe from the door.
The remains of Maria Ayres Fatzinger Ziegler, Maria Elizabeth Ziegler, and Theodore Ziegler were disinterred from the Moss Spring graveyard and moved to the family plot in Cedar Hill Cemetery, on December 6, 1897, by George Frederick Ziegler I.
Nineteen months after the death of his wife, George wrote a letter to Cassie, in which he spoke of his children. Having written his daughter’s name Maria, but thinking of his dear wife, George wrote, “Oh what hallowed and sacred recollections, cluster and turn around, this dear and honored name - I have never written it, without a tear since the memorable 17th of March, 1847 - and its mention, will continue to swell and fill my soul with sorrow until the last pulsation of my heart.” One cannot begin to imagine the unfathomable, unbearable grief George Ziegler carried in his heart when, then, his daughter Maria died on March 17th.
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