Allison-Antrim Museum

Michael Reymer


George Reymer was the son of Philip Roemer (German-born, 1760 – 1831) and Elizabeth Stotler (1775 – 1849).  George Reymer married Elizabeth Diehl. Their children were Infant (b. ca. 1833), Mary (03.29.1835 – 06.27.1915), Martha (09.17.1836 – 02.08.1908), and Michael Diehl Reymer (b. 05.07.1839).  George died in 1840, sometime after the birth of Michael.  According to the March 1908 obituary of Martha, the children’s mother, “made her home in Greencastle for seven years when she died.”  The cause of George’s and Elizabeth’s death is unknown to the family.  George’s sister, Louisa B. Reymer (6.14.1817 – 11.10.1881), 19 years younger than George, married Elizabeth’s brother, Jacob Diehl (10.9.1803 – 2.22.1888).   Although Mary, Martha, and Michael, were recorded on the 1850 U.S. Census as living in the home of their aunt and uncle, Jacob and Louisa Reymer Diehl, Martha’s obituary stated that the three young orphans were raised by Lydia and Mary Diehl, maiden sisters of her mother Elizabeth Diehl Reymer and her uncle, Jacob Diehl.  The Diehl’s lived on a farm, in Antrim Township.


The following information was found in Martha’s obituary in The Wapello Tribune, Wapello, Iowa, Friday, February 14, 1908, page 1.  Just a couple weeks before Martha turned 21, she and Mary traveled to Louisa County, Iowa to visit their Uncle John Diehl.  Their journey started on or about September 2, 1857.  Both young women decided to stay in Iowa.  Martha married Matthew Jamison on April 29, 1858 and began housekeeping on the Jamison family homestead.  Martha and Matthew had eight children: Minnie, Melville, Victoria, Franklin, Edwin, Gertrude, Myrtle, and William.  Martha’s sister Mary always lived in the same household with Martha and her family.  Matthew died November 27, 1905.  Martha was a Christian woman, well respected and loved by all.  She died February 8, 1908.  Mary Reymer outlived Michael and Martha, dying at the age of 80, on June 27, 1915.  Martha and her husband Matthew, and Mary are all buried in Bethel Cemetery, Wapello, Louisa County, Iowa.


In 1860, during the census, Jacob and Louisa were still living on a farm in Antrim Township and all of their children, including 10 year old John, were living at home.  None of the Reymer children were living with the Diehls.


M. Reamer (Reymer), 21 and a student, was living in Greencastle, during the 1860 census, with Lydia Deal (Diehl) (born about 1811), 49, and Mary Deal (Diehl) (born about 1816), 44.  Lydia was the head of household and owned her property, valued at $750; her personal estate was worth $100.  Between 1856 and 1860, Michael was a student at Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, now known as Gettysburg College.


Michael was mustered in, as a private, on August 7, 1862, with the Greencastle-area men of Company K, in the 126th PA.  On September 22, 1862, by order of Gen. Porter, Michael was detached from his regiment for Provost Guard duty at the headquarters of the 5th Corps.  According to muster rolls, he was still on detached guard service, on April 10, 1863.  Michael was mustered out with his regiment on May 20, 1863.


In 1886 the “Revised Roster of the Signal Corps, U.S. during The War of the Rebellion,” was published.  Michael’s name appears on page 7.  He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant.  Joseph Willard Brown (b. 1838 or 1839) wrote “The Signal Corps, U.S.A. in the War of the Rebellion (1896).”  In Chapter XXII, Department of the Susquehanna, Samuel H. Eby, Greencastle, was quoted, thusly, “Our detachment, according to the roster of 1864, of which I have a copy, consisted of about sixty-seven men, thirty-eight of whom enlisted in February 1864, ten in March, thirteen in May, and six at various other dates of the same year.”  Michael Reymer was among the 10 who enlisted during March 1864.


“The majority of the men in the Corps were school teachers, graduates of some college, or students in some institution of learning.  A number of them came from Pennsylvania College, located at Gettysburg, Pa.”


“The Corps was organized in February 1864.  It encamped about three and one-half miles west of Chambersburg, at which place the recruits were instructed in infantry, cavalry, and flag drill.  The Corps remained at this point until the 27th day of June 1864, when it started for Harper’s Ferry, a point in the Department of West Virginia.  After arriving at the Ferry the Corps was divided, and the Signal stations established for miles along the Potomac River.”  (The rest of the members were doing scout duty around Charlestown, Shepherdstown, and Winchester, and in Frederick and Washington Counties, Md.)


Between July 3 and 16, 1864, Gen. Jubal Early executed his unsuccessful raid on Washington City.  It was during this time that the Signal Corps reports, regarding the changing positions of the Confederate troops, convinced the Union Generals of the vital importance of the Signal Corps.  Eby continued, “The services of the Signal Corps, just recounted, show the utility of a signal party in determining the movements of an enemy in a country well adapted to signaling.  For twelve hours the reports furnished by Lieut. Thayer were directly opposed to all others.  All evidence but that of the Signal Corps represented the enemy at Point of Rocks, and yet they were found to be exactly where the observations and reports of the Signal Corps located them.”


“On the 10th of August 1864, our Corps left the Department of West Virginia and returned to the Department of the Susquehanna, with headquarters at Greencastle, Pa., a town located within four and one-half miles of the Maryland line.  Signal stations were now established at Williamsport and Fairview, Md., on the Potomac River, commanding a view of all the ferries for many miles.  Stations were also established in Pennsylvania at Casey’s Knob, Greencastle, and Mt. Parnel.  With this line of stations, news could be transmitted very rapidly from any point along the Potomac to Gen. Couch’s headquarters.  This same line of stations was kept in operation until the close of the war.”


“During the late summer and fall of 1864, the detachment, though small, consisting of the four officers (Lts. Amos Thayer, George Kennedy, Francis K. McCloskey, and Michael Reymer) and forty men already referred to, rendered as valuable and efficient service as could have been performed by a full regiment of cavalry.”


“It was a scouting party of this detachment, led by Lieut. Thayer that first entered Chambersburg after it was burned by the Confederates in the summer of 1864, and gave authentic information of the route taken by the enemy on their retreat.”


During Michael’s first tour of duty, between August 7, 1862 and May 20, 1863, he wrote letters, on a weekly to every-three-week basis, to the owner of The Pilot.  The only digital, online issues of The Pilot go from February 3, 1863 to July 26, 1864, and there were some weeks throughout that period, that The Pilot was not published, due to the Great Invasion of Pennsylvania and illness.  Michael’s letters were always under the heading “Letter from the Army – Headquarters of the Fifth Corps.”  Michael gave general news of the war and talked about the men of the 126th.  He signed the letters very simply, M. D. R.  The town’s newspaper was not bought until the summer of 1865, in August, by William and Robert Crooks.  Michael was discharged on August 16, 1865, along with the rest of the men in his U.S. Signal Corps detachment.


In 1866, The Pilot was bought by Rev. John Gaff, who changed the name to the Valley Echo.  Within the year, Gaff sold the paper to Benjamin F. Winger – a Lieutenant Colonel during the Civil War.  Winger hired Michael as the editor.  Although William Conrad in his book Conococheague, states, “Mr. Reymer was succeeded as editor in 1867 by Geo. E. Haller,” the “Business Directory,” in the upper left corner of the Greencastle 1868 map, indicates otherwise.  On the map, within the “Business Directory,” under the heading “Editors,” is “Reymer and Holler – Editors Valley Echo, Baltimore St.,” which indicates Michael continued as one of the editors of the Valley Echo, for a period of time during 1868.


On the July 13, 1870 U.S. Census, recorded in Greencastle, Michael was still living in the same household with Lydia and Mary Diehl.  None of the ages given on the census correspond with the 1860 census.  According to their dates of death, Lydia should have been 59 or 60 and Mary 44 or 45.  Michael should have been 29 or 30 on the 1870 census but is recorded as 27.  Human error or vanity may have been the reasons for incorrect ages on both census pages.  In 1870, both Lydia and Mary equally owned their home and property.  Each of their shares was valued at $500, as was their personal property.  Michael was an insurance agent for L & F.  An Internet search did not reveal an obvious insurance company with those initials.


According to the Patriot newspaper, Harrisburg, dated August 2, 1872, the Democratic party of Franklin County met on Tuesday, July 30, 1872 in Chambersburg.  The party presented a list of candidates for the coming election.  On the ticket was M. D. Reymer for Clerk of Courts, of Franklin County.


 Michael Diehl Reymer died at the age of 37 on October 21, 1876.  He is buried in the Diehl family plot, in the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC) graveyard, on North Washington Street, Greencastle.  Michael never married and had no descendants.  I found no application for a pension and could not find that either of Michael’s sisters applied for his pension after his death, as Mary and Martha would have been his next of kin.  The family does not know what Michael’s cause of death was.


The 1880 U.S. mortality schedule (June 1, 1879 to May 31, 1880) listed individuals’ names and the diseases from which they died.   Because Michael died in 1876, his name was not included but the list of those, in Franklin County, who died within the year prior to the 1880 census, gives insight into what diseases were prevalent.  They were:  Scarlet Fever, Typhoid Fever, pneumonia, Whooping Cough, croup, measles, Cholera, Diphtheria, cancers, heart disease, consumption known today as Tuberculosis (mainly, an infection of the lungs that could cause hemorrhaging), apoplexy, dropsy, remittent fever, malaria, influenza, meningitis, still born babies and infants who died of asphyxia (sudden infant death syndrome).  Out of this list, there are now vaccines for measles, Whooping Cough, Diphtheria, and influenza.  There’s a vaccine for TB but it’s mostly used in third-world countries.


Lydia died on November 12, 1879, in the 68th year of her life.  Mary died 16 ½ years later in 1896.  Lydia and Mary were buried alongside Michael.   Louisa Diehl Reymer, who raised Michael, died November 10, 1881.  Jacob Diehl, Louisa’s husband, died February 22, 1888.  Louisa and Jacob Diehl are buried in the same Diehl family plot, in the ELC graveyard.


I extend a grateful thank you to Andrew “Andy” Reymer of Mount Joy, PA for sharing, with me, his family genealogy, from Philip “the fifer” Roemer to his generation of Reymers.  Andy’s brother Robert “Bob” Reymer Jr. lives in Greencastle.  They trace their Reymer lineage back to Jacob Reymer, a brother of George, who was Michael’s father.  Jacob had a son Archibald Reymer, whose son Andrew Peter Reymer was the grandfather of Andy and Bob Reymer.    Andy’s and Bob’s father was Robert Reymer Sr.  Thank you, also, to Gary Hawbaker, a great-great-grandson of Daniel Hawbecker, who was the brother of Sarah Hawbecker’s grandfather Henry Hawbecker.  Sarah married Archibald Raymer, son of Jacob Raymer, brother of George Reymer, who was the father of Mary, Martha, and Michael Reymer.  Regarding the spelling of Roemer, Reymer, Raymer, Hawbecker, and Hawbaker, the spelling of the surnames changed from brother to brother and generation to generation.



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